10 laws you may have broken

Crime statistics don’t stop at the border of the campus. Here’s a fun look at what laws are not obeyed by the students of Pierce College.

Crime statistics don’t stop at the border of the campus. Here’s a fun look at what laws are not obeyed by the students of Pierce College.

1.) Cell Phones and Driving: One early morning, a man was driving to work, taking advantage of his commute time to make some business calls. He was pulled over for it but before the police office came up to his window, he put his phone aside and grabbed his handheld razor instead. He calmly explained to the officer he had only been shaving, not talking on the phone as it had appeared. The driver was let off the hook and resumed his drive to work.

It’s illegal to either be talking on the phone without a hands-free device or writing, sending or reading a text message while you are driving. In fact, it’s even a primary offense now with a fine of $124.

Do most people even take this into account? In an unofficial poll conducted on campus this month, 20 out of 32 (62.5 percent) students admitted to using their cell phones while driving sometime this year.

2.) Littering: It’s difficult to think of a reason to litter, except sheer laziness. Yes, one small piece of garbage isn’t going to destroy an ecosystem, but it really adds up. Having to pick up someone else’s half-eaten sandwich and pop cans are gross.

The chances of being caught are slim and the fine isn’t large, so the law itself probably isn’t enough to stop anyone from littering. More than half of the students (53.1 percent) surveyed were guilty of littering this year.

3.) Speeding: Driving faster than the posted speed limit is the most commonly broken law—25 out of 32 (78.1 percent) students have sped this year. Is that news to anyone? The outlook is this: Watch the speedometer when you see a police officer.

4.) Cheating on taxes: You’re required to pay income tax on all pay, including side jobs such as mowing lawns, house cleaning and babysitting.

It’s common to get paid under the table to avoid having to pay taxes. Many are just ignorant of their social responsibility. And with so many tax laws and overlapping federal, state and local jurisdictions, it’s easy to make a mistake.

Taxes are confusing. Only four out of 32 (12.5 percent) said they had cheated on their taxes this year, but some of the people I surveyed don’t even have to pay taxes yet.

5.) Jaywalking: According to the law, you’re supposed to cross the street only at a crosswalk, marked or unmarked. This law was written to protect pedestrians, but for most walkers, their common sense is enough to know when and where it’s safe to cross, which is probably why most cross anyway. Almost 25 out of 32 (75 percent) Pierce students jaywalked in 2010, making it the second most commonly broken law.

6.) Finder’s Keepers: Well, I’ll admit that I had no idea this law existed… and neither did 37.5 percent of the students I surveyed. According to Washington state law, when you find property that doesn’t belong to you, you are required to report it to a government official and they will publish an ad in the newspaper for at least a week. After 60 days, if it remains unclaimed, it belongs to the finder. So if you find a dollar on the ground, you’re not allowed to just keep it. Surprising? Sixteen out of 32 (50 percent) students have committed this crime in 2010.

7.) Plagiarism: Since junior high, teachers have drilled it into our brains that any form of plagiarism will earn us a big fat zero. That was enough to keep most of us away from it. But now, as college students, the price is much higher: Plagiarizers face serious consequences from not only the school, but the law. However, the Internet gives students access to thousands of sources and the bottom line is, it’s much easier to use an expert’s intelligent-sounding words and phrasing than to do your own extensive research, analyze insightfully, and then express it in your own, original wording. Out of the 32 students I surveyed, only six (18.8 percent) admitted to plagiarizing this year. Some may have plagiarized unintentionally. Some might have been ashamed to admit they plagiarize. Or, maybe the statistics are in fact an accurate measure of the college, but I still maintain that plagiarism is a rising problem in society and am highly suspicious of the poll’s findings.

8.) Underage drinking, illegal drugs and abusing prescription drugs: Drugs and alcohol are out there, most people are around them to some extent, and they have a huge destructive potential. Laws concerning drugs are sometimes controversial, but they are still laws. Twelve out of the 32 students have been illegally involved with drugs (37.5 percent). This is a trend that infringes on both the legal code.

9.) Pirated music, movies, television shows and other media products: Why pay a dollar for a song on iTunes when hundreds of websites offer the same music for free? It’s simple math. And the same goes for movies—with a couple clicks of the mouse, anyone can access free movies, some that are even still in theaters. Twenty-three out of 32 (71.9 percent) students have violated this law in 2010. Some students might not even realize this is illegal. Most people have never met anyone who has been caught and while the law is enforced to some degree, it’s definitely not enough to instill any sense of fear into the public’s minds.

10.) Peeing behind a bush: It’s disgusting and yes, it is illegal to urinate on public or someone else’s private property. But 40.6 percent of students admitted to it. Just the other day, on a major four-lane road, a guy hopped off his bike to pee behind a telephone pole, barely disguising his motives or his unmentionables.

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10 laws you may have broken

by Contributing Writer time to read: 4 min