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5 Strange Nevada Laws

Brian J Smith Aug. 25, 2018

Virtually every state and municipality has at least one dusty law still on the books but never enforced. Many of them sound pretty ridiculous today, but some had an authentic purpose that made sense at the time.

As an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, I can assure you that you won’t really get in trouble for not wearing a mask in Elko.

Here are a few of what I think are the most interesting unenforceable laws still on the books somewhere in Nevada, and the reasons for them (if known).

You can’t take your camel for a drive along state highways. Believe it or not, this law probably made a fair amount of sense a century ago.

The U.S. Army Camel Corps was established in 1857 with the idea that the rugged beasts would make ideal pack animals as the army journeyed west into the dry heat. So over 70 of them were imported from Egypt and the idea worked…not so much. The animals were ornery, smelly and unwilling to carry heavy loads. The idea got abandoned — and so did the animals. Some wound up as working animals at Nevada mines, but others were allowed to drift away. They became such a nuisance that laws were written to try to keep them off roadways.

You must wear a mask in Elko. While you might find yourself arrested — or at least aggressively questioned — if you wander down Main Street in most cities with your face disguised, in Elko, it’s technically illegal if you aren’t wearing a mask in public.

Again, this law made a certain amount of sense at a desperate time in the past. The world’s most dangerous influenza epidemic occurred at the end of World War One. The Spanish flu pandemic killed as many as 100 million people, so the Elko law was intended to reduce the spread of germs. So it did make some sense at the time. Just that no one thought to remove it from the books after the pandemic ended in 1920.

You can’t hang someone for shooting a dog. Just kidding. Nevada law still states that it’s legal to execute someone if he shoots a dog on the pet owner’s property. That’s because dogs were so valuable for protecting property and herding farm animals that Nevadans made shooting one a capital offense. It’s still a poor idea to shoot man’s best friend for any reason, but you probably won’t be hanged for it today.

You can’t hire a Communist in Las Vegas. We’re not sure how many commies are really trying to find work in Sin City, but beware if you are. The end of World War II and the rise of the Soviet Union brought on the Red Scare. You were either a Ford-blue-jean-apple-pie-lovin’ real American or a godless Communist. That’s why the City of Lights enacted this law to keep out anyone whose middle name might be Boris or Fidel.

Men with mustaches can’t kiss women in Eureka. Well, the good reason for this law is…okay, I’ve got nothing. No idea why the townspeople here hated facial hair so much.

But I do know plenty about the laws that are still enforced in Nevada today. If you need an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer, call Brian J. Smith at (702) 380-8248.