5 things you should never do in America according to Reddit

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Man is arrested and handcuffed by a police officer
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A user on the social media site Reddit recently started a lengthy conversation asking:What should you never do in the United States?

The discussion thread received more than 12,000 responses, including advice useful to US visitors, and even more users rated it as an interesting conversation.

Following are some answers that even people living in America might find interesting – along with context and official sources that the original users generally failed to provide.

1. Fly a drone in Washington, DC

drone
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In general, flying a drone in controlled airspace – such as anywhere near an airport – requires official approval through a process called Low Altitude Authorization and Notification (LAANC). That process is in effect for more than 700 U.S. airports, but Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is not one of them.

“Airspace around Washington, DC, is more restricted than in any other part of the country,” and since the 9/11 attacks, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Without special permission, you are not allowed to fly anywhere within 24 miles of the airport – a radius that spans the entire capital of the country.

Violators could face “arrest, a $300 fine and/or 90 days in prison and may also face additional federal civil and criminal penalties,” according to the report. US Capitol Police.

2. Open someone else’s mail

Wife gets mail
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Opening email that belongs to someone else can be considered one of the few different ones federal crimesincluding:

  • Obstruction of emails in general: “Anyone knowingly obstructing or delaying the passage of the mail, or of any carrier or means of transport carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.”
  • Obstruction of correspondence: “Anyone who takes a letter, postcard, or package from a post office or authorized postal depot, or from a letter or postman, or who has been in a post office or authorized repository, or is in the custody of any letter or postal carrier, before has been delivered to the person to whom it is addressed, for the purpose of interfering with correspondence or prying into the affairs or secrets of another, or opening, concealing, obscuring or destroying, shall be fined under this title or be imprisoned for no more than five years, or both.”
  • Theft or receipt of stolen mail in general:: “Whoever steals, takes or takes, or obtains, or attempts to obtain by fraud or fraud, from or from a post office, post office or station thereof, letter box, mail receptacle or any postal route or other authorized postal depot, or from a letter or postman, any letter, postcard, package, bag or mail, or any summaries or deletions of such letter […] or Whoever buys, receives, or conceals, or possesses unlawfully […] any article or thing in it that is so stolen […] Will be fined under this title or imprisoned for no more than five years, or both.”

Fortunately, accidentally opening someone’s mail doesn’t count, according to the Chicago-based Law Firms of Hal M. Garfinkel.

3. Leave your car during a traffic stop

Agent writes a ticket
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It may not be illegal to leave your vehicle if you are stopped, but the best thing to do is to sit and wait for instructions from the police, which may or may not include getting out.

The American Civil Liberties Union recommends doing the following when an officer signals you to stop:

  • Stop the car quickly but safely.
  • Turn off the car, turn on the overhead lighting, partially lower your window and place your hands on the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • If requested, show your driver’s license, insurance details and registration certificate.
  • Keep your hands visible and avoid sudden movements.

These steps should help reassure police that you are not a threat or likely to flee, which should make for a safer and smoother experience.

4. Try to bribe the police

No cash accepted
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You may have heard – or seen on TV – stories of people working their way out of a thorny situation with the police. But since the general purpose of bribes is to pretend that something didn’t happen, it’s hard to estimate how often they actually occur.

Anyway, this was the most popular answer in the Reddit thread:

“Don’t try to bribe the police if you’re arrested. I immediately had some Argentinian friends pull out their wallets and start pooling their money when they were arrested one time. Fortunately, someone in the car noticed and told them to put it away immediately.”

Other users claimed to know at least second-hand that it works in Mexico, India and even the US territory of Guam.

One group that has attempted to measure bribery is the nonprofit Transparency Internationalwhich claims to be “the world’s largest survey asking citizens about their direct personal experience of bribery in their daily lives, their perception of corruption challenges in their own country and their willingness to act against corruption.”

The most recent survey, from 2017, found that 1 in 4 people around the world had paid bribes while interacting with a public service in the previous year. The countries where bribes were most frequently reported were Yemen, India, Liberia, Mexico and Vietnam. However, “bribery inquiries were not made in Belgium, France, Greenland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US due to funding constraints.”

Fortunately, it doesn’t take money to find out that bribery is illegal in every jurisdiction of the US. Bribery is a crime in every state and under federal law Columbia Law Schoolinvestigating anti-corruption laws in the US

5. Joking About Shooting Someone

upset torque
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One user offered the curiously specific but popular response: “Under no circumstances should you say, ‘I’m going to shoot the President of the United States.’ Certainly not on TV.”

The best response to that comment was a “former news cameraman” who agreed it was a bad idea to say you’re going to shoot someone, even if you mean “taking video footage of them.”

The federal law describes “Threats to President and Presidency Successors”, when made in writing, as a specific offense punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison.

In general, “interstate communicationThreatening the kidnapping or injury of anyone can be punished by up to 20 years in prison under federal law, not to mention state laws.

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