No billboards and putting coins in ears among weird and unusual laws in Hawaii

Written by: 
Emmalee Smith

Hawaii is home to what websites described as “unusual” or “weird” laws such as a ban on billboards, husbands can’t eat their second wife, and companies can’t serve milkshakes with imitation milk.


Hawaii is one of four states to ban billboards, including Vermont, Alaska, and Maine, the Huffington Post reports.

Billboards have been outlawed in Hawaii since 1927, according to the Los Angeles Times. Darry Hong, a freshman in accounting from Malaysia, said he likes billboards. “They’re something to look at in traffic. I especially like the animated ones.”

But Kristi Nelson, a freshman with an undecided major from Arizona, said, “I guess that’s good because drivers can’t be distracted by them.” She said the big animated ones are almost like giant TV screens and are distracting.

Husbands cannot eat second wife

In the Hawaiian Orakama tribe, it is illegal for a man to eat his second wife, according to Cyrus Horoma, a freshman with an undecided major from Laie, blinked and said, “Cannibalism should be banned. You shouldn’t eat other people. I know no Hawaiian stories about eating your second wife.”

Nelson said she thought the law was funny at first but stopped laughing and said, “Oh, no wait, that’s not funny. That’s awful.”

Smoking until 21

Since Jan. 1, Hawaii became the first state to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, according to the Washington Times. It includes regular tobacco, lighter induced cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Coins in ears

It is also illegal to put coins in your ears, according to Only In Your State. Horoma replied to this saying “Is that a real law? Kids are not going follow this. You can’t control kids.”

Imitation milk in milkshakes

It is illegal to put imitation milk in a milkshake without making it known, according to Only In Your State. But the staff at the Seasider store assures that they only use real milk.

Tanner Smith, a sophomore studying biomed from Oregon, said, “I would prefer real milk, but I don’t really care. Maybe someone else wants to know that.” He said he thought it was a weird thing to regulate. “Maybe if it has health benefits to it then it’s a good law, but if it doesn’t then no.”

Feeding sharks

Feeding sharks is illegal unless it is for “traditional Hawaiian cultural or religious practices,” according to Find Law, a website for making law more accessible. However, all commercial businesses are not allowed to feed sharks, even if it’s by a Hawaiian cultural group or for religious purposes.

Legal prostitution for police officers

Up until 2014, Hawaii state officers were exempted from prostitution laws during investigations – meaning they could have sex with a prostitute if it was part of their investigation ­­– according to Time. The exemption was put in place in the 1970s “to protect police from prosecution after undercover prostitution stings.”

But due to concerns over cops abusing their power and raping the prostitutes, it led to a heated discussion about change. According to the Associated Press, prostitution is being considered by Hawaii lawmakers to be decriminalized so buying sex and pimps would become legal. This would end the law banning police offers from having sex during an investigation.

Tracy Ryan, a transgender activist and head of the Libertarian Party of Hawaii, said that transgender women are largely represented in the sex trade and are largely harmed from its illegalization. “I don’t like seeing people sent to jail that don’t belong there,” Ryan said.

But Kathryn Xian, an anti-sex trafficking advocate, said that decriminalizing prostitution would make it harder for the government to monitor the industry. She said, “If this bill passes and everything was no crime whatsoever, then abuses against women and children would just shoot through the freaking roof.”

Killing a service animal

Killing or injuring a seeing-eye dog or service animal is also illegal in Hawaii, according to Justia Corporate Center, an online legal resource. A first offense is a maximum fine of $2,000 and or up to 30 days in prison. The second offense raises the fine up to $5,000. Compensation must also be offered to the owner of the animal or the person or organization that provided the animal.

Audrey Tuttle, a freshman studying hospitality and tourism from Utah, said, “Animals in general shouldn’t be harmed at all, but service animals are important because they really help people.”

Annoy birds

It is also outlawed for people to annoy birds in state parks in Honolulu, according to Only In Your State. Tanner said that he has annoyed birds before, “but they started it. I was eating and the birds were annoying so I scared them away. It’s a hard law to enforce and define. I mean, what if one lands on your shoulder, can you go shake it off?” But he said he still thinks it’s a good law, unless birds start it.

Date Published: 
Friday, October 20, 2017
Last Edited: 
Friday, October 20, 2017