Crazy Laws Governing Pennsylvania Residents

COMMENTARY | Sometimes laws remain on the books long after their relevance is gone. Other times, the laws once had an important purpose, but are now just annoyances. Here are five laws that are still on the books around Pennsylvania but have outlived their uses.

[Related: Find more news about Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.]

Removing Trespassing Livestock

If a Pennsylvania resident finds a farm animal on his or her property, the proper individual to inform is the constable. In Pennsylvania, constables are like police officers, except they have statewide authority to deal with both civil and criminal matters. Constables do not get a public salary, but may be paid with public funds based on the work that is done. Though most constables would not have the first idea of how to herd a cow off someone's property, this law was recently included as part of the consolidation of laws relating to constables in 2009. The next time a PA resident has a cow or sheep take up residence on the lawn, be sure to contact your local constable.

Fireworks Can't be Sold to Pennsylvanians

It is perfectly legal for licensed sellers to sell all different types of consumer fireworks in Pennsylvania. Those who sell the fireworks will need to look closely at the buyer's identification, however, as Pennsylvania residents are not allowed to purchase the more extreme, or even most, fireworks. Those who are Pennsylvania residents can get a permit to put on a fireworks display, but other than that option, residents are generally limited to sparklers and other novelties. There are no limits as to which types of fireworks can be sold by licensed sellers in the state to non-residents, however.

Wine and Liquor Can Only Be Sold in State Stores

Unless you are drinking at a bar or restaurant, if you want to purchase liquor or wine in Pennsylvania, you will need to go to the state store. This arcane little law has become a fact of life for all Pennsylvania residents. Recently, there has been a push to privatize the liquor stores. Though the alcoholic beverages would still not be able to be sold in grocery stores, perhaps there could be a greater variety, selection, or price range at the different stores. Currently, every item is priced the same at each store.

[Related: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Weather Forecasts.]

192-Ounce Limit for Beer

Unless you are purchasing beer from a beer distributor, you will be limited to a purchase of 192 ounces of beer or malt beverages in a single transaction in Harrisburg. Now, 192 ounces is not a small amount. In fact, it is the equivalent of 16 12-ounce bottles. It is still a strange law to have, though. Just recently, some specific grocery stores and gas stations have been allowed to sell a select few beer and malt beverages, which would seem to put Pennsylvania a little behind the times.

No Sunday Car Purchases

There used to be a number of prohibited activities on Sundays. Though most have been repealed by now, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, residents are still not able to purchase a vehicle from a licensed dealer that day. Though residents can likely buy alcoholic beverages on a Sunday, even with the restrictive alcohol laws of the state, they cannot purchase a vehicle.

Published by Kristin Watt

A law school graduate who lives in central Pennsylvania.  View profile


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  •  2/10/2012

    Actually, you would be hard pressed to purchase alcohol on a Sunday as well. Since all of the alcohol is controlled by the state, no state worker would be caught dead working on a Sunday - are you kidding me????? I think there is one state liquor store in my area open on Sunday.

  • Steve in Pittsburgh 2/10/2012

    We also have electricity choice. Fireworks are best left to the pros; in states where they are legal, kids get ahold of them and they can be hurt.

    And I'm pretty sure PA was the first or one of the 1st states to outlaw slavery.

    My hometown high school, that I graduated from, was desegrated 75 years before the civil rights amendment was passed.

    So there!

  •  2/10/2012

    Have lived in Pennsyltucky most of my life and love it here. The Keystone State is one of the most beautiful places to live and grow up. We have the best work ethic in the whole country and it is no wonder that m ost of us in Western PA don;t move more than twenty miles from where we grew up. You can't find a better people. Sure, most of us venture elsewhere, but usually boomerang back when it's time to raise a family because there is no better place. If any of yinz ever want to come over this summer and drink a pop on my front porch with me, you are more than welcome.

  •  2/10/2012

    If you do not like PA laws,do not come here.If you are already here and do not like them,feel free to leave.If you are a criminal coming here to commit crimes,we make it easy to carry concealed if you are not a criminal so come on in and commit crime. We will be happy to kill you and you will never know who is packin and who aint...................I love it !

  •  2/10/2012

    We also have people like Joe who get DUI's, need glasses to see the beauty of PA State, and are intolerant of people that don't look like him (now THAT would be an ugly state!). Aside from that blemish on the state, and some of the silly, outdated local laws, PA is a pretty cool state to live in. And no, I am not Puerto Rican!

  •  2/10/2012

    Franklintown, PA. This town has a law that puts the rest of yahoos "crazy laws" to shame. In this town it is an ordinance that you must own a firearm. Obviously it isn't enforced anymore, but at one time it was. Check it out

  •  2/10/2012

    I also live in PA, Lehigh County. I don't think these are that bad at all. There arent a whole lot of grocery stores that sell beer where I live, not til you go up north towards The Poconos. The DUI problem is pretty severe from what I've noticed. There were 150+ people in court when I got my DUI. It's really not that beautiful of a state either, it's big cities and farms, that's it. Also there's puerto ricans everywhere, so better learn Spanish

  •  2/10/2012

    I live near Pittsburgh and some Giant Eagles will sell 6 packs, 40's and wine now though they are terribly overpriced

  •  2/10/2012

    i live in pa and yeah we do have suckie laws. but it is a beautiful state. the only thing is DONT LIVE IN CLEARFIELD COUNTY!!! its a kangaroo court system and you are able to get a way with rape but have even perscribed pills to you on you and you are arrested. even if they are yours. its a beautiful state but dont live in clearfield county. plus there are no jobs here. (in the county.)

  •  2/10/2012

    I am originally from Ohio. Until a handful of years ago, Ohio had 'State run liquor Stores' also. They got rid of them and now you can buy liquor pretty much anywhere. Its sad really. When you had 'state stores', the sales of booze was tightly controlled. In states where you can buy it anywhere like Ohio, Michigan, California, and other currently unknown states, alcoholism is out of control because there is little state oversight. Sure, there are state liquor agents inspecting stores, but like most states there are only a few dozen agents to oversee thousands of stores: an impossible task!

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