Important U.S. Laws

Unlike most countries, laws in the U.S. vary from state to state and even city to city. It is important to become familiar with and obey the local laws that apply to you. Remember: in the U.S., ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. As such, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of our basic customs and laws found below. We also recommend checking with your camp to see if there are any local laws (or camp rules) you need to be aware of.


Even outside of the camp setting, Americans are likely to be much less tolerant of smoking than people in other countries. It is illegal to smoke in many public places, so look around you before you light up; ‘no smoking’ signs are usually posted in clear, visible locations. Smoking is also restricted in office buildings, restaurants, and public transportation, among other places.


Illegal possession of controlled substances (drugs) in the U.S. is subject to prosecution by law. The penalties for drug possession vary from state to state. Any type of illegal drug use while in the U.S. may have serious consequences. You may have to pay fines, go to jail, or leave the country if you are caught with drugs.


You must be 21 years old to drink alcohol legally in the United States. If you are under 21 and are found with alcohol, you may be arrested and subjected to fines. In addition, if you purchase alcohol for persons under 21, you may also be arrested and subjected to fines. Drinking alcohol in public areas is also illegal in many places.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Do not drive if you have been drinking alcohol and do not get into any vehicle if the driver has been drinking. Not only is your safety in danger, but DWI/DUI laws in the U.S. are very strict. You may be arrested or be subjected to large fines. You will also be terminated from your job at camp.

Please note: Americans often choose a designated driver when going out to drink with a group of friends. This person agrees to not drink alcohol and drives the rest of the group to and from their destination.


Breaking the law in the U.S. may result in legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and/or visa revocation. In addition, you will likely get fired from camp if you break laws and/or camp rules. If you are fired from camp, you may be liable to pay CIEE a non-completion fee (as detailed in the terms and conditions of our program).

Now that you know some of the laws in the U.S., it’s important to familiarize yourself with your legal rights in the U.S.