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Top 10 Illegal Things You've Probably Done at Least Once

VO: Chris Masson

Script written by Victoria Toltesi.

There are probably a bunch of illegal things you do all the time: whether it’s online streaming, littering, jaywalking or just not picking up after your dog, the list of things against the law is a long one and there are crimes you may have committed without even knowing it! Other common illegal things even honest people do include loitering, speeding and using unsecured WiFi… WatchMojo counts down ten laws you’ve broken without even realizing it

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Script written by Victoria Toltesi.

Top 10 Illegal Things You've Probably Done at Least Once

If a cop isn't around to see it happen, did it actually happen? [Yeah, probably... ] Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 illegal things people do every day.

For this list, we’ll be looking at laws that are commonly broken by many individuals, whether by accident or just a lack of caring. Note that these may not be against the law everywhere, but they must definitely be illegal somewhere to count.

#10: Jaywalking

We’ve all done it, but only a rare few actually get caught. Jaywalking isn’t illegal everywhere, places like the UK, which forbids jaywalking on highways, and Asia, which asks pedestrians to exercise caution. Jaywalking laws are common in North America, however, where there are some areas in which pedestrians are only allowed to cross where there are zebra crossings (aka crosswalks) or pedestrian lights. Many places take jaywalking very seriously; as recently as 2015, the government of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia proposed a hefty $700 fine to show that road safety isn’t just a driver’s responsibility. There are some instances where jaywalking is allowed, like if there isn’t a pedestrian crossing within 164-328 feet of you, but unless you carry a tape measure you’re just going to have to eyeball it.

#9: Loitering

While loitering may seem innocent enough, the history of this law had some darker implications. In 1992, Chicago established an anti-loitering law to help reduce gang activities and illegal drug transactions. However, the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional by 1999. Loitering laws have been widely criticized as unconstitutional since they can be fairly vague, so officers should not act unless loiterers are acting suspicious, there are formal complaints, or the suspect is doing other illegal activities. Penalties for loitering can be minor, ranging from simple warnings and fines, to major, like jail time and community service – though the latter usually comes along with some other crime.

#8: Speeding

Speed restrictions are pretty universal, and there are only a few niche areas that don’t have any. The most famous example is the Autobahn in Germany, in which some classes of vehicles do not have a federally mandated speed limit – but even then, there is still an advisory limit of 81 mph. The Autobahn also limits the speed of other classes of vehicles, like buses and transport trucks. There is a grace period for going over the speed limit in most areas of the world, usually about 5 miles over the limit. But if you catch a cop in a bad mood, or you’re being reckless, a fine will be delivered, licenses can be suspended, and if you really have a need for speed, it could mean jail time.

#7: Not Cleaning Up After Your Dog

Listen, we understand, you are trying to be a responsible pet owner and take Fluffy for a walk and you just happened to forget a poop bag. Thing is no one wants to step in Fluffy’s poop and it is illegal to leave it where it lies. In many parts of Canada and the United States, you’ll be fined if you leave your dog’s excrement on public property; in the UK you can get a fine of £100 for just walking your dog without the proper means for poop disposal. Even the president of the United States isn’t above this law; Barack Obama dutifully picked up after Bo and Sunny Obama on the White House Lawn.

#6: Driving Under the Influence

If you want to see something scary, look no further than the statistics for drunk driving. According to the CDC, in 2014 drunk driving accounted for almost 31% of all traffic-related deaths in the US. This is why the laws on impaired driving are so strict and why there are more traffic stops during the holidays, as people are more likely to be drinking during this time. In most places, if you are caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% then you can be fined and/or jailed. Alcohol isn’t the only culprit, though, as driving while high on drugs such as marijuana, meth, and certain prescription medications, can also get you into some serious trouble.

#5: Marijuana

The topic of legalizing marijuana has been a controversial one, but steadily the laws are changing. Many countries have legalized medical marijuana for the treatment of a variety of illnesses. In these cases, the patient needs a prescription and the marijuana needs to be purchased from a registered dispensary. Legalization of recreational pot use has been a bit more complicated. One side argues that it is a harmless drug that can bring countrywide revenue while the other argues that it is a gateway drug, and the long-term effects haven’t been thoroughly studied. Overall recreational use is still illegal and the penalties are fines and even jail time.

#4: Littering

Evidence of littering is everywhere, with some of the worst offenders being chewed gum and cigarette butts. Approximately 1.9 billion tons of litter finds its way into the ocean annually… which is just insane! If you are caught littering, you can expect a fine - or at the very least a forced walk of shame to the nearest garbage can. The size of the fine depends on where you are; in California, a first time littering offence begins at a $100 fine and 8 hours of mandatory litter clean-up; in Calgary, Alberta it is a fine of $500-1000. Suddenly, spitting out that piece of gum on the ground just doesn’t seem worth it.

#3: Underage Drinking

The legal drinking ages differ around the world, with the oldest minimum drinking age being 25 and the youngest at 16, but only for specific kinds of alcohol like beer, wine, and ciders. In some areas, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, alcohol is illegal regardless of age - except in very specific circumstances and for religious ceremonies. In the United States, where the minimum legal drinking age is 21, underage drinking is a public health problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, underage drinking contributes to 5000 deaths a year. Legal consequences for underage drinking include fines, community service, and mandatory counselling.

#2: Online Streaming

There are many forms of online piracy and while illegally downloading media, such as music, is also common, we decided to focus on online streaming. There are two kinds of online streaming: the authorized and the unauthorized. You can usually spot an unauthorized, aka illegal, streaming site by the fact that you don’t have to pay to view the content, if it’s covered by dozens of pop-up ads, and/or if it’s got extremely new content, as in movies that are still in theaters. While accessing unlicensed streamed content isn’t technically illegal, and you probably won’t be penalized, you are still participating in a potentially illegal activity. Prosecutors like to directly attack the source in online crimes; anyone who is caught profiting from illegally distributing content will be heavily fined and will likely serve jail time.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Using Unsecured Wi-Fi
- Public Urination
- Throwing Out Previous Tenant’s Mail

#1: Texting and Driving

Driving vs. Distraction: an age old battle that seems to have hit a climax with the arrival of the cellular phone. If you are caught texting and driving, you are fined and extremely lucky; but if you cause an accident, a fine is just the start of your legal troubles. Depending on the severity of the accident, you can also face jail time and a whole lotta guilt. Even with the introduction of hands-free devices, cell phone-related accidents continue to be on the rise. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone and text-related distracted driving accounted for 1.6 million car accidents a year in the United States alone… and this stat came before the release of Pokémon Go.

Do you agree with our list? Which law do you see broken the most? For more informative top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to


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