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U.S. Laws

It is very important for you to learn about local laws and rules. Not knowing the local laws and rules may put you in danger or legal trouble. In addition, breaking the law may cause you to fall out of immigration status and lose the ability to get a U.S. visa in the future.



OISS and the MSU Police produced Know the U.S Law videos about laws and safety. Videos are in both English and Mandarin. Watch the videos to learn about:

  • Traffic Laws
  • What to do if you are stopped by the police
  • Pedestrian Safety
  • Parking Policies

If a person is convicted of violating a law, that person's name and nature of the violation are recorded in police department files, giving the person a police record. Police records are public information and may impact your future U.S visa applications and attempts to enter the US after traveling overseas.It is your responsibility to know and understand local, state and federal laws and to obey them. 

Alcohol and Drugs

Social customs and laws on alcohol and drugs in the U.S. may be different from those of your home country.

In the U.S, the legal drinking age is 21 and it is illegal to purchase or consume alcohol if you are under 21. In many areas of the United States, including East Lansing and MSU, it is illegal to walk along the street with an open container of alcohol. Across the country, it is illegal to drive an automobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you are arrested for drinking or having alcohol when you are under the age of 21 (called Minor in Possession) or for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (called Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under Influence), there is a strong possibility that you will not be able to get a U.S. visa in the future. 

The state of Michigan offers Medical Amnesty, meaning that if you or a friend are drinking and need medical attention, you can go to a health clinic or call emergency services without fear of punishment. This allows minors, people under age 21, to receive help and avoid legal repercussions.

There is an all-MSU policy on drugs and alcohol. Read more here.

There are also U.S. laws about tobacco and cigarettes that you should keep in mind. Public buildings, including restaurants, are often designated as "smoke-free" and prohibit smoking anywhere in the building. MSU is a tobacco-free campus, meaning that you must leave campus before using traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The ordinance also prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers on campus.

Watch the Know the Law videos in the section above for more information on U.S laws about alcohol.

Public Transportation Safety

Driving a car is the most common way to get around in Michigan and most of the U.S. While on campus, getting around by CATA bus is one of the easiest and most common modes of transportation. If you ride the bus off-campus, make sure you pay attention and get off at the right stop. If you call a taxi or ride booking company such as Uber or Lyft, check the licence plate and description of the car and make sure the company's logo is visible before getting in the vehicle. Always be aware of your surroundings when waiting for a bus or ride.