Spitting, fortune telling and cursing while driving: Weird and antiquated Maryland laws

A spate of new laws went into effect Oct. 1, including a ban on “sextortion” and gay conversion therapy.

But some unusual old laws remain on the books in our area.


» Fortunetelling is illegal in Baltimore. Violators can be fined $500 or imprisoned for up to a year.

» Adultery is prohibited under Maryland law. The penalty is $10 for anyone convicted.


» Across the state, 15-year-old girl can get married only if she has the consent of her parents, and if a physician has examined her and found that she is either pregnant or has already given birth to a child.

» First cousins can tie the knot in Maryland, but you can’t marry any one of the following people: a grandparent, parent, child, sibling, grandchild, grandparent’s spouse, spouse’s grandparent, parent’s sibling, stepparent, spouse’s parent, spouse’s child, child’s spouse, sibling’s child or grandchild’s spouse.

» Under Maryland law, civilians are not allowed to buy, wear or sell military uniforms or “objects prescribed by law for the use of the organized militia.”

» Baltimore law lays out benefits only for the widows of firefighters — a legacy from the days when there were no women in the fire department.

» In Baltimore, it’s illegal for any minor not employed by the railroad company to jump on or from any railroad car while the car is in motion.

» Baltimore law carefully regulates who can advertise a “going out of business sale,” and violations of any of the law’s provisions can incur a fine of up to $500.

» Under most circumstances, Maryland landlords can’t prohibit tenants from hanging a clothesline.

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» It’s also illegal in Baltimore for a commercial laundry to operate between midnight and 6 a.m.


» No person may spit on a sidewalk, or on a hotel lobby floor in Baltimore.

» It’s illegal to curse while driving or walking down the sidewalk in Rockville.

» It’s illegal to import wild rabbits or hares — dead or alive — into Baltimore for the purpose of selling them.

» It’s illegal to harass or kill a bird in Baltimore.

» Oral sex is technically illegal under Maryland law. This also applies to animals.

» The law also makes anal sex illegal for all.