Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

9 Most Frequently Broken Laws

You’ve never left the scene of a crime; you’ve never murdered anyone. You don’t drink and drive. You vote and begrudgingly pay your taxes. You’re just the pinnacle of a law abiding citizen, aren’t you? Answer: you’re not. Believe it or not, we’ve all broken laws, and chances are it’s a few more than you might think. Check out this list of the nine most frequently broken laws in America, and prepare to realize that you’re more of a criminal than you ever thought.

  1. Speeding

    There are 260 million cars in the United States, and that’s 260 million cars that have, at one time or another, broken a speed limit law. Have you ever been on an American highway? Any motorist driving the paltry speed limit will be honked at and whizzed by, and probably soon banished to the outside lane or frontage road. Even if you’re not a speed demon, everyone’s been in a hurry or had an emergency at one time or another. Additionally, it’s common knowledge that driving a few miles over the posted speed won’t net you a ticket, except in the most stringent of speed limited areas (school zones, for one). And you road warriors commonly break other traffic laws, like running red lights and not using proper turn signals.

  2. Underage Drinking

    If your cool uncle ever let you have a beer with him during your high school years, you’ve participated in underage drinking. (And probably gross underage drinking. Your uncle is the last person on the planet who drinks Old Milwaukee, dude.) If you’ve ever gotten sauced enough on Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill to dance on a table at a sorority party in college (oh, so you’re the one … ), you’ve definitely participated in underage drinking. And if you say that you waited until your 21st birthday to try your first sip of booze, you’re lying — or you’ve probably got a fairly free social calendar this weekend, don’t you? Underage drinking is by no means cool, but it’s an extremely common practice among those of high school and college age. According to SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), 26.4% of underage kids use alcohol every month, which puts the population of those imbibing at more than 10 million.

  3. Smoking Weed

    If you use marijuana in the United States, you’ve got about 30 million stoner friends. While the substance is classified as a Schedule I narcotic and outlawed on the federal level, many states have decriminalized its use for medical purposes. But those without glaucoma in California still seem to find a way to get blazed: an incredible 52% of all 2010 drug arrests in the United States were marijuana related.

  4. Pirating Music

    You’re reading this list on the Internet, are you? Then you’ve probably downloaded something illegally, even if you’re not certain that you have. Pirating music, videos, and software is illegal and, many argue, immoral — as it’s, functionally, the act of stealing. Piracy has taken its toll on its target industries, too; music purchases have decreased worldwide since piracy became a hard-to-enforce illegal norm.

  5. Jaywalking

    Maybe you didn’t drink when you were young, and maybe you don’t get stoned now, but every ambulatory American has jaywalked at least once in their lifetime, and probably more than once. Jaywalking is the act of illegally crossing the street at a time or place not then designated for pedestrian crossing, and there’s no one who hasn’t done it. Ever walked across in the middle of the street? Or just gone ahead even though the red hand was lit up because there was absolutely no one coming and you were in a sketchy neighborhood where you were pirating music, smoking weed, and underage drinking? Well then, dear reader, you’re a dirty, rotten lawbreaker.

  6. Littering

    Have you ever thrown a cigarette butt or a receipt down on the pavement? That’s littering, and you’ve made an American Indian shed a single tear. How does it feel to make the noble natives of our great land break down and cry, you litterbug? Littering is illegal in the United States, and is often punishable by payment of a fine, which can be extremely hefty in certain areas, such as state parks and preserves. Next time you think about throwing down that gum wrapper, remember that you’re being watched.

  7. Copyright Law

    You probably break copyright law every day, and you probably don’t even know when you’re doing it. Copyright laws in the United States are extremely complex and varied, so much so that you can barely be sure whether your mix tape or mashup is legal or not. Additionally, you may be breaking copyright law by using software at work that you didn’t know wasn’t intended for commercial use, or that may have been illegally obtained (unbeknownst to you and your company, no doubt). Luckily for all of those parodies and playlists of the current remix culture, some of these laws aren’t enforced to the letter, and you may be safe to play another day.

  8. Cheating On Your Taxes

    Tips? What tips?
    Face it: if you work in the service industry, you’re cheating on your taxes. Waitstaff, childcare workers, and the like do a lot of their dealings in cash, which makes it easy to fudge when April 15th rolls around. While most people probably don’t intend to cheat on their taxes, doing so (accidental or otherwise) could net you an audit and possibly jail time. Common methods of cheating on your taxes are: claiming too many dependents (you’re 25 and you have six kids? Really?), false use deductions (do you really have a deductible-friendly, home-based business, or do you call yourself a freelancer as an excuse to play online every evening?), not declaring all income, and not selecting the correct filing status. Lucky for most of us, we don’t mean to break the law — and if we do, and we’re caught, it can usually be cleared up with a small fine.

  9. Gravity

    If you’ve got a hoverboard, you 1) live in the future, and 2) are a lawbreaker. And even if you’re not a futuristic hipster (one assumes that hoverboards will be a toy for the cool kids), you probably know that Newton’s law of universal gravitation (F=Gm1m2/d^2) has been superseded (for all intents and purposes, broken) by the more accurate, complex, and beautifully succinct equation, Einstein’s theory of relativity (e=mc^2).