Do You Know These Commonly Broken U.S. Laws?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

There are about 330 million Americans running wild in the United States. Some of them are empathy-free felons who can't go more than 10 minutes without breaking the law -- others are pretty normal folks who still manage to bend the rules now and again. How much do you know about the most commonly broken laws in the country?

Which driving-related crime is a contributing factor to about one-third of all traffic fatalities?

Admit it, if you've ever been behind the wheel, you've either intentionally or unintentionally exceeded the speed limit. And speed often kills -- it's a factor in about a third of traffic deaths.


If you cross a street without using a crosswalk, which crime have you committed?

Jaywalking is the term for crossing streets outside the crosswalks. In most cases, you won't be ticketed for jaywalking … but you might endanger your life, as drivers won't expect to see you in the middle of the street.


Which common activity constitutes a crime for people under the age of 21?

In America, you have to be 21 years or older to consume alcohol. Cops often ticket underage drinkers, especially those who drunkenly urinate on the wheels of their police cruisers.


Thanks to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which seemingly innocuous act could end with you being charged with a felony?

In 1986, Congress enacted the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and in its most technical interpretation, it could be used to charge you with a felony for connecting to some else's unsecured WiFi network. It's unlikely … but it has happened.


If you DO NOT do this, you are probably breaking the law.

Dogs are a major responsibility that many people underestimate, and in most states, you're required to license your dog. No, not a driver's license. It just helps the government keep track of the number of Fidos and Fluffys in a city.


What's one thing you always have to do after you move, otherwise you're breaking the law?

No one likes to visit the DMV, but after you move, you have to update your driver's license. Otherwise, how else will the NSA track your every movement?


How many states have mandatory seat belt laws?

Objective research shows that seat belts are good for your health -- but only 34 states have mandatory seat belt laws, and cops can ticket you for not wearing yours. In the other 16 states, you're free to fly as far as you like during ejection from a high-speed vehicle.


Which state has no seat belt laws whatsoever?

New Hampshire is the Wild West of seat belt legislation. Unlike say, New York or Maine, where you could be ticketed for not using your seatbelt, you don't have to worry about buckling up here, and you can strap your baby's car seat to the hood if he or she cries too much during your morning commute.


Which activity is legal for adults in just eight states?

As of 2017, eight states allow recreational marijuana consumption. But in all 50 states, excessive Cheetos consumption is quite alright.


Which common crime occurs on the big screen in "The Fast and the Furious"?

In "The Fast and the Furious," there are famous scenes of drag racing. Drag racing happens all the time in less dramatic forms, such as when two people try to outrun each other from stoplight to stoplight.


If you sing certain songs loudly in public, you might be charged with which crime?

Copyright law is weird sometimes, and in a strict sense, you could be charged with copyright infringement if you belt out a popular song in public. So next time, be sure to whisper "Happy Birthday" under your breath, with the lights off and the doors locked.


It's often illegal to let your ____ run at large.

In most states, you must license your dog once it reaches a certain age. You also must keep the animal under control -- in a lot of places, letting your dog run free is illegal.


Which act, performed in your own home, might get you arrested?

Like to walk around your own home in the buff? Good for you -- close the drapes. If your neighbors (and their kids) can see your nakedness, the cops might decide to throw you in a cell.


If you don't wear your motorcycle helmet in ______, you're breaking the law.

It's illegal to zoom around on your Harley in Missouri without a helmet. Don't worry, once you get to the Iowa or Illinois border, you're free to remove your helmet to maximize your chances of exposing your cerebrum to broad daylight.


If you illegally download a copy of a song that you like, you've committed which crime?

Online music theft is rampant -- by some estimates, more than one-third of Americans have committed music piracy. But if it's just a Taylor Swift song, it doesn't count.


Which act might earn you a ticket if you're caught doing it while driving?

Texting (and cellphone use in general) is a scourge of the highways. Dozens of states have myriad laws restricting phone use in moving vehicles.


What bit of fun might end with you in handcuffs?

Gambling laws vary quite a lot from state to state, but in some conservative areas, even a low-stakes game of poker in your home may be illegal. Either way, it's always advisable to have large hairy henchmen handy to shake down your friends when they don't pay up.


If you smoke a cigarette and toss the butt onto a city street, which crime have you committed?

In America, smoking is steadily become more and more demonized. It used to be common to chuck cigarettes onto sidewalks. Now, you might be ticketed for littering.


True or false: Is it legal for you to share your prescription antibiotics with a friend?

You're not supposed to share prescription medications of any kind. So when your friend is dying of an infection during the zombie apocalypse, just hold up the bottle so he can read the label. "Is that your name? No! Do you want me to get arrested?"


What can you do in Montana that you can't do in New York?

In Montana, you can use your cellphone for just about any activity while you're driving. It's one of the few states that hasn't cracked down on cell phone usage in cars.


Which illegal activity contributes to about half of all driving fatalities?

Drugs and alcohol that impair your motor skills are a tool of Darwin -- they are a factor in half of all fatal accidents. You've heard of Lyft and Uber, right? Use them.


Why is public urination outlawed?

In America, it's not OK to run around naked, even if you really, really, really have to pee. Public urination, especially in cities, can land you in hot (or body temperature) water.


If you're driving, strike another vehicle, and then go off on your merry way, which crime have you committed?

Leaving the scene of an accident is often just called "hit and run," and depending on the circumstances you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.


In Nebraska, which act is illegal for minors but legal for adults?

As with numerous other states, Nebraska allows adults over 18 to use cellphones while driving. But that's only because adults do big important things, like play Farmville and Flappy Bird.


By some estimates, how many Americans illegally download movies … while the films are still playing in theaters?

No wonder Hollywood is up in arms about movie piracy. About one-quarter of Americans have admitted to pirating movies, even when those films are still available in theaters.


What act is legal in Oregon and nowhere else in the Union?

Let it all hang out in Oregon, where public nudity is legal so long as you aren't setting out to arouse sexual desire. But because hippies eschew personal hygiene, arousal is not a problem in Oregon.


If you earn tips as part of your livelihood, you're probably committing which crime?

Few people diligently track the tips they receive for work like pizza delivery. Failing to report tips is technically cheating on your taxes, and you should be ashamed of yourself for depriving Uncle Sam of more laser-guided bombs.


As of late 2017, how many states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes?

In 29 states, with the proper paperwork, patients can acquire marijuana for medical purposes. Those purposes might include back pain, headaches, liver aches or the existential pain of daily life.


What percentage of alcoholic beverages are consumed by underage drinkers?

About 10% of alcoholic beverages in American are illegally consumed by people age 12 to 20. Better education and public service announcements are slowly but steadily reducing the number of underage drinkers.


Which activity is common in the countryside but illegal in cities?

Don't bag those fall leaves -- make a big pile, splash them with rocket fuel and send them all to a fiery leaf hell. In Wyoming, you're good. In Manhattan, you'll go to jail.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!