Graphic that says Happy St. Patricks Day with a pot of gold, green balloons, and a green top hat.

5 Weird St. Patrick's Day Laws

Published March 15, 2023

St. Patrick’s Day conjures up a lot of imagery, including shamrocks, green clothes, pots of gold, and of course revelries like parades and parties. What perhaps doesn’t immediately come to mind are the laws that can play a part in how people celebrate the cultural holiday. For example, did you know that in Ireland, pubs were closed on St. Patrick’s up until as recent as the 1970s! That could certainly curb the festivities! America has its own share of strange laws, and we’ve put together a list of 5 that could factor in to how you celebrate St. Paddy’s day.

1. Sober bars for St. Paddy’s?

It’s no secret that people like to partake in alcoholic libations during St. Paddy’s festivities. But if you find yourself drinking green beer in a bar in Alaska on the holiday, make sure it’s only one or two. Yes, believe it or not, it’s illegal to be drunk in a bar in Alaska. The law is aimed at keeping the public safe, but it must make it difficult for Irish revelers—and bar owners—on St. Patrick’s Day!

2. Banish those snakes

Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, and NYC did the same. Did you know that it is illegal to keep snakes in New York City? While this law isn’t specifically related to St. Patrick’s Day, it’s an interesting connection to the holiday’s history. The law was put in place in the late 19th century to prevent people from keeping dangerous animals as pets. 

3. No porch couches in Colorado

If you find yourself in Boulder, Colorado with plans to watch a passing St. Patrick’s Day parade from a comfy porch, you won’t be able to do it sitting on a sofa. In 2002, the city banned couches on porches thanks to too many rowdy college students with a penchant for mixing alcohol and flames. You’ll have to stand for these porch parades!

4. Shamrocks on the slopes—if you are sober

Planning to don some green and hit the slopes for St. Paddy’s Day? Well, if shamrocking and skiing is in your future and you happen to be in Wyoming on the festive Irish holiday, you’d best do it sober! Enacted in 2011, this state law deems that you cannot be impaired while skiing. It’s a sensible law and one that obviously keeps safety in mind. Save those green beers for après ski, or you could get hit with a $200 fine or 20 days in jail! 

5. Hats are not allowed

If your plans were to dawn your signature leprechaun outfit and head out dancing, think twice if you are in Fargo, North Dakota. In Fargo it is illegal to dance with a hat on or to even be at a place where dancing is happening with a hat on. Better be safe than sorry, the hat should stay at home. 

St. Patrick’s Day remains one of the most popular—and certainly rambunctious—holidays in the US, and it’s likely that these laws won’t truly put a damper in your shamrock step. If you do celebrate the holiday, be sure to do so responsibly!

Additional Resources

Photo of Lindsay Gladney.

Lindsay Gladney is the Vice Dean for Admissions at the University at BUffalo                           School of Law.


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