Strange laws in Destin

Nine ordinances on the books that will make you scratch your head

Annie Blanks
The Destin Log
There are a number of strange laws listed in the city of Destin's ordinances that are enforced "as best as possible." [NICK TOMECEK/THE LOG]

Ever thought about taking a jar of sand home from the beach? What about playing ball in the park, climbing a tree or leaning your bike against a fence?

If so, you might want to think again. According to Destin's Code of Ordinances, all of those things are punishable by up to a $500 fine or 60 days in jail. And those are only a sampling of the strange laws that can be found among the thousands of ordinances in the city's code book.

Doug Rainer, public information manager for the city of Destin, did not know the history behind any of the strange laws, but he did say the laws are enforced "as best as possible."

The Log compiled the list below of the top nine strange laws on the books in Destin. The code section and title are in parentheses next to the law.

1. It is illegal to give away baby ducklings and bunnies in front of a store. (4-12a “Sale or giveaway of certain animals") This law states that the baby ducks and rabbits can not be given away or offered as prizes or toys. The intent behind it seems to be in the right place, but we have to wonder why these particular animals are specified in the law. 

2. A dog or cat that chases a person shall be deemed a “bad dog” or “bad cat.” (4-8b “Bad dog; bad cat”) To avoid the distinction of your pet becoming an official city-sanctioned "bad dog" or "bad cat," don't let them chase cars or "terrorize" people.

3. It is illegal to change clothes in your car or in a bathroom. (15-37a “Recreational Activities”) Unless there is a section specifically set aside for changing, no getting down to your skivvies in any bathroom. 

4. Torpedoes may not be set off in city limits. (15-38a “Behavior”) This law also bans fireworks, rockets and other explosives. 

5. It is illegal to ride any person who is riding a bicycle. (15-36(g)(3) “Traffic”) This one has no description, and we are scratching our heads. 

6. You cannot play ball or throw arrows in city parks. (15-37(e) “Games”) No games involving projectiles, including balls, arrows, javelins or model airplanes may be played in city parks. These games are prohibited everywhere except parks specifically designed for them, such as a ball field. 

7. It is illegal to take a jar of sand home with you. (15-34(a)(3) “Buildings and other property”) According to this law, no sand, soil or other natural resources may be removed from city property. That includes mason jars full of sand that tourists often like to bring home with them. 

8. You cannot climb trees in city parks. (15-34(b)(2) “Trees, shrubbery, lawns”) It is illegal to "climb any tree, stand or sit upon monuments, vases, fountains, railing, fences or gates, or upon any other property not designated or customarily used for such purposes." 

9. It is illegal to ride your bike in a cemetery. (7-33 “Traffic”) You can ride your bike to the cemetery, but it must be left outside the gates before you enter. However, it is also illegal to leave your bike "lying on the ground or paving, or set against trees, or in any place or position where other persons may trip over or be injured by it."