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America is the Land of the Free, but that doesn’t mean we can do anything we want. Every society needs some rules and laws, to keep everything running smoothly, especially when it comes to driving. Driving laws like stopping at red lights and obeying speed limits make perfect sense. But then there are others that are very strange, which we’ll present below. 

Weird driving laws around the world

Australia: Illegal potatoes

Woman with potatoes behind car with trunk open
Woman with potatoes | Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty

Down Under, a law from 1946 makes it illegal to carry over 110 lbs of potatoes unless you’re a member of the Potato Marketing Corporation. Law enforcement didn’t have to actually weigh the potatoes. Instead, the law allowed for them to estimate the weight to determine if someone broke the law. Fines for breaking this law were said to be high, though exact amounts varied.

Bahrain: Excessively high fines

Though not a specific law, in general, if you’re driving in Bahrain, you better really watch how you drive. Running a red light can mean a six-month jail sentence and a fine of $1,200. If, in the event of running a red light, you also damage property, you can land one year in jail and pay almost a $10,000 fine. 

Cyprus: No food allowed

Two men eating in the car
Eating in the car | Yuttachai Kongprasert/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

In Cyprus, you cannot eat or drink while driving a car. Not even water. The reason is that driving with only one hand on the steering wheel is also illegal. So making eating and drinking illegal takes some of that temptation away.

China: Car ownership lotto

Because of the number of people in China, there is a lot of traffic. To curb the amount of cars congesting roads, there is a lottery for the chance to buy a car. You don’t get a free car but can own a car by becoming a winner. The City of Beijing gives out 60,000 EV and 40,000 gas-powered car vouchers a year. Your chances of getting one of these is about one in 500.

Germany: Check your tank

You have broken the law if you run out of gas on the German Autobahn. The reason is that sitting on the side of the road with an empty tank or for any reason can be dangerous due to the excessive speeds cars run on the network. The fine is $75. 

Some laws make sense, and some don’t

France: Check your breath

Man holding breathalyzer and phone for id.
Man with breathalyzer | YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty

Since 2013, every driver in France must carry their own breathalyzer. The weird part is that it is not enforced by a fine or other penalty. Police must admonish the driver for not having one, then use the officer’s breathalyzer. 

Japan: Riding while drunk

If you’re a passenger in a car being driven in Japan by someone who is drunk, you can go to jail. Passengers can get up to three years in prison and pay a fine of $3,500.

Mongolia: Sterling confusion

In Mongolia, you drive on the right side of the road, just like in the U.S. But half of the vehicles registered in the country are right-hand drive. It’s causing enough confusion that the government is considering restrictions on importing right-hand drive vehicles. 

Russia: Keep it clean

Filthy blue car rear 3/4 view
Filthy car with license plate obscured | Nik Taylor/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty

Driving around with a dirty license plate on your car is illegal in Russia. That’s weird enough. But some Russians are confused about the law and think it applies to the whole vehicle. With that, police were fining drivers (or, more likely, taking bribes to be let go). It was enough of a problem that radio stations began public service announcements advising listeners that the law was for plates and not the whole car. 

Switzerland: Don’t wash

Washing your car in front of your house or in your driveway is illegal, according to Culture Trip. That’s because clean water laws don’t allow anything into oceans or streams that can contaminate them. Drivers must use official car washes and use the equipment there. 

Thailand: Cover up

Driving around Thailand, be it on a motorcycle or in a car, going shirtless is illegal. But not only that, the law says it is also impolite to be shirtless. 

Dubai: Camels have rights

Camel crossing road
Camel crossing road | via Getty

Camels are a symbolic part of the United Arab Emirates culture. With that recognition comes rights, meaning you must always give the right of way to a camel on the road. 

Canada: Honk to pass

This applies to Prince Edward Island, where before passing a car, you must honk first. We don’t know how enforceable this is. We assume the police must observe the event.

Australia: Park and lock

Once you park your car in Australia, the law says you must lock it. Forgetting to do so can get you a $1,700 fine, not to mention the possibility of theft of contents or the entire car. 


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