Service of Nonsensical Laws II: Obsolete Wedding Statutes and Slipshod Driver License Regs

January 9th, 2014

Categories: Elderly Drivers, Laws, Wedding

crazy laws

An Internet entrepreneur wrote me: “You’ve probably already covered laws and regulations that make no sense in a civilized society, one that prizes safety, well-being and plain old common sense.”  [I have, in “Service of Nonsensical Laws and Regulations: Cockamamie Campaign Finance, Motor Vehicle Rules and Road Signs.”]

She shared these examples:

Obsolete Statue in the Sunshine State

left at the alterA Florida statute makes it possible for about-to-be brides or bridegrooms to cancel their wedding just hours before the event and still have no reimbursement obligation to whomever paid for the non-refundable wedding expenses that already had been incurred (photographer, wedding gown, flowers, reception, etc.).

I have personal experience with this and participated in a lawsuit against my niece’s fiancé, who called off their wedding 36 hours before the event. My sister, brother-in-law and I lost the lawsuit last year and still are furious about it.

Brides or bridegrooms are not protected from deadbeats in, I think, 43 states. I can’t recall the exact number but my sister has it memorized. This Florida statute was written in the 1940’s, when weddings typically took place in church basements and guests were served punch and a platter of sandwiches.

It makes absolutely no sense in the 21st century, when the average wedding costs $25,000 and some (like my niece’s) cost much more than that.

Taking License with the Empire State’s Driving Permits

old person drivingIn New York, a 90 year old can renew his or her driver’s license without being evaluated by authorities and without taking any tests. All they have to do is pay a fee. New York State says my Mom is good-to-go until age 98. What??!!

Why does Florida ignore the cultural change for weddings as do over 75 percent of states? Do you think that there should be protection for those with big investments in them and obligations to shoulder at least a percentage of costs for those who wait to the last minute to announce a change of heart?

There have been articles in The New York Times,, and elsewhere about how technology makes it possible for some elderly people to drive safely. What are your thoughts?

 1950s wedding



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10 Responses to “Service of Nonsensical Laws II: Obsolete Wedding Statutes and Slipshod Driver License Regs”

  1. JPM Said:

    A long time ago, when I was a first year law school student, my Domestic Law professor asked the question, “Are any of you married?” A few hands went up. He then polled the hand raisers and asked, “Where did you marry and why?”

    After the answers were in, he said, “Well, you are all wrong. The most important thing to do when looking for a place to marry is to choose a jurisdiction where the law is most favorable to you if something goes wrong.”

    He was only partly kidding.

    He did make a good point though. Our system of each of our 50 states making its own laws, with the exception of the Civil War, has worked pretty well over the past 200 plus years in this radically diversified society. I’d hate to think that if there was only one national set of laws, and the Texans gained the power to make them, what New Yorkers would have to put up with.

    I suspect we all be better off with the stupidity of some local laws than having only one law for everybody.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Good point JPM,

    One size doesn’t fit all in clothing or laws. I don’t think that the writer wanted that–she hoped that lawmakers would revisit current laws based on how life has changed. When license laws were drawn up not too many people lived until 90 so someone gauging how responsive they are behind a wheel wasn’t a consideration.

    As for laws affecting brides and grooms I would think that reading this post might alert those writing the big checks to consider discussing with all parties ahead of time who is responsible for what should things fall apart. Sure is awkward. Makes the case for elopement, no?

  3. DManzaluni Said:

    Not sure if this makes you feel any better but very few states will take a license away from an octo or nonagenarian driver even if almost blind and reaction-free. I have seen this happen! (the only place where I have experience that licenses will be taken away is in Australia where the drivers usually keep on driving anyway. Because firstly distances are greater so the potential for damage is smaller. And secondly, the chances of getting caught by the few police is commensurately less)

  4. Lucrezia Said:

    JPM’s law professor’s advice, if taken, has undoubtedly prevented many costly court appearances.

    The elderly should not be singled out when it comes to getting licenses, and talking about safety is not an answer, unless you are prepared to go after each and every person who has committed a vehicular crime ranging from drunkenness to malicious mischief. We read of deplorable incidents nearly every day, and the hit and runs and downright murders do not appear to be caused by old people.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can’t think of an industry that would benefit from this law except auto manufacturers should the older drivers smash their vehicles. This makes no sense.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are correct in that there should be periodic checks of everyone. Some haven’t been to an eye doctor in eons; others wake up to a gin cocktail; others have early dementia; still others have anger issues. We would all benefit by having these people loose their driver’s license so they don’t endanger us when we’re on the road.

  7. C.M. Said:

    I loved JPM’s story about the law professor, but his/her comment about tolerating the stupidity of local laws rather than having one law for everybody should make all of us wonder–why do nonsensical local laws still exist? Why haven’t they changed? Why should citizens tolerate stupidity from our lawmakers? We MUST contact them to express our views about what’s right and wrong and what issues they need to address. If we don’t, things will never change. All together now, let’s throw open our windows and let our local, state and national legislators know we’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!

  8. JPM Said:

    Re: CM’s comment, at the risk of belabouring the point, isn’t it possible that a majority of Florida’s voters like that state’s marriage laws just the way they are, and that’s why they haven’t been changed?

    What happens to them, if Washington does change their law?

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I imagine that nonsensical laws exist because unless a person has reason to access one, who knows what they are? My friend and her sister and brother in law obviously didn’t. Might they have urged the bride and groom to celebrate their nuptuals in one of the states with laws that would protect their investment in the wedding? Hard to know.

    I can also only guess that it’s the story of “pick your battles.” And unless there is profit involved, when it comes to changing laws I bet inertia wins.

    I have friends who are diligent in passing along petitions–a few daily–and entreaties to send both local and national lawmakers. There are many who shake trees violently and thank goodness for them!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I think that legal gay marriage is an example and sale of marijuana will be another of states with different laws with potential impact on neighboring states.

    I like the idea of each state with its own laws though corruption in Albany is an argument in favor of Washington telling states what they should do.

    I agree with C.M. that rather than simply complain, communicate with lawmakers and ask for change.

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