US federal laws that wouldn't work in the UK?

AY1975

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Hypothetically if the UK (or at least what was left of it) were to become the 51st State of the USA, we would be subject to US federal law. But can anyone think of any US federal laws that wouldn't work in the UK?

Here's a few I can think of:

Having to drive on the right (which, ironically, I suspect some Brexit supporters feared Brussels would make us do sooner or later if we had stayed in the EU!).

Having to adopt US (not UK) imperial weights and measures, which are different from those used in the UK in some cases.

Having to lower our speed limits on motorways (or highways as the Americans call them), which I think used to be 55 mph everywhere in the US (I think it now varies with the State but is still generally lower than in the UK).

Having to raise our drinking age to 21 or take a cut in highway funds (technically the drinking age is a State matter rather than a federal matter, but in practice there has been a federal law in place for about the last 35 years that says any State that doesn't have a minimum drinking age of 21 has to take a cut in highway funds). If we had to do that, a lot of pubs whose main clientele are 18-25 year olds would struggle to survive, and in university bars it would be a nightmare stopping students under 21 from going in (or making sure that they only have soft drinks).
 
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AY1975

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The US has higher maximum speed limits than us. Theres a stretch in Texas with a limit of 85mph.

55 mph is more like our national speed limit.
On ordinary roads, yes, but I thought 70 mph was the usual speed limit on UK motorways, whereas historically it has been 55 mph on US highways.
 

hexagon789

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On ordinary roads, yes, but I thought 70 mph was the usual speed limit on UK motorways, whereas historically it has been 55 mph on US highways.
There was a 55mph National Maximum Speed Limit in the US, but it was widely ignored and abolished in 1995. It was raised to 65mph in 1987 and all other simply did was withhold Federal funding for highway projects exceeding this speed. It was brought in in 1973 with the oil crisis.

The legislation required 55 mph (89 km/h) speed limits on all four-lane divided highways unless the road had a lower limit before November 1, 1973. In some cases, like the New York Thruway, the 50 mph speed limit had to be raised to comply with the law. The law capped speed limits at 55 mph (89 km/h) on all other roads.
 

Howardh

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What a horrible and distressing thought! More realistically, if the UK as it is now splits up, who gets to keep the British Overseas Territories (or gets to pay for their defence)? This is one area of Brexit, Scots indy and Reunification that has been very quietly sidelined.

Therefore, back on topic, would the US pay for their strategic positions and....then....what???

Gibraltar becomes the 51st state?? Frighteningly realistic these days, the thread isn't as outlandish as it appears.
 

Grecian 1998

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It's worth pointing out the American Virgin Islands drive on the left over 102 years since the USA bought them from Denmark. Not a US state, but still part of the United States.

Interestingly, there are studies suggesting driving on the left is safer than driving on the right. In times of severe danger, right handed people are likely to throw their right hand in front of their face. Do that driving on the left and you steer left off the road; do it driving on the right and you steer left into oncoming traffic. Also most people's dominant hand and eye are on the right, meaning they're closer to the middle of the road and better able to determine potential threats.

Getting back to the original question, certain crimes in the USA are federal offences, to be tried by central government rather than individual states. Certain forms of murder (i.e. they depend on the context) carry the death penalty. Not sure Washington DC handing down the death penalty to UK citizens would be terribly popular.
 

hooverboy

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Hypothetically if the UK (or at least what was left of it) were to become the 51st State of the USA, we would be subject to US federal law. But can anyone think of any US federal laws that wouldn't work in the UK?

Here's a few I can think of:

Having to drive on the right (which, ironically, I suspect some Brexit supporters feared Brussels would make us do sooner or later if we had stayed in the EU!).

Having to adopt US (not UK) imperial weights and measures, which are different from those used in the UK in some cases.

Having to lower our speed limits on motorways (or highways as the Americans call them), which I think used to be 55 mph everywhere in the US (I think it now varies with the State but is still generally lower than in the UK).

Having to raise our drinking age to 21 or take a cut in highway funds (technically the drinking age is a State matter rather than a federal matter, but in practice there has been a federal law in place for about the last 35 years that says any State that doesn't have a minimum drinking age of 21 has to take a cut in highway funds). If we had to do that, a lot of pubs whose main clientele are 18-25 year olds would struggle to survive, and in university bars it would be a nightmare stopping students under 21 from going in (or making sure that they only have soft drinks).

haha!:D
1)driving on the right- could be done. Sweden swapped over in the 1970's. Roundabouts in london could get interesting though!
2)Imperial measures- Again could be done, but US imperial measures are slightly different to ours in some cases.ie 1 US pint= 475ml,a UK pint is 568ml.
3)lower speed limits- not really the case, it's pretty much 75mph on interstates now everywhere.
4) drinking age- definitely! That will cause a problem for the teens,
5) so will sex under 18 being illegal in most states!

We should really make the distinction between federal law and state law though.
The stuff like drinking age/age of consent and so on is STATE law.
In the US, federal law is very much more hands off than is/was the case with the EU.

If it were ever put through a thouroughly consitutional court,the universal drinking age would be dismissed as "not your remit sunshine".
Although in some matters like transport/highway code/driving licence testing standards, it would make a lot more sense for a more uniform approach than they presently have.

Even with stuff like capital murder cases, it is for the state to decide if the convict is executed or not, the only caveats being for military employees and national security offences which are dealt with at federal level.
Technically if one does a runner then the state in question has to apply to the supreme court to make it federal and apply for extradition from the state in which they are apprehended.
 
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hooverboy

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Getting back to the original question, certain crimes in the USA are federal offences, to be tried by central government rather than individual states. Certain forms of murder (i.e. they depend on the context) carry the death penalty. Not sure Washington DC handing down the death penalty to UK citizens would be terribly popular.
If we went back to pre blair 1997,thats basically what our supreme court could do. Treason and piracy were both classed as the US equivalent of federal offences,and carried the most severe punishments.
As for it not being too popular, I think the vast majority of people would be of the opinion that some crimes are so heinous, and some people are so beyond redemption, that the only solution it to purge them from society.
Should it ever come back ,I would expect it in only very limited circumstances.

treason, piracy, plus a few other candidates like sworn al-quaeda/ISIS terrorists(london bridge guy if they'd have taken him alive), fred and rosemary west, the moors murderers and people of that ilk.
 

hooverboy

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The gun laws.
we'll see about that.

I have a feeling that in the increasing likleihood of more london bridge type events,there will be a change of tune, with people saying to the government "hold on,you're preventing us from defending ourselves"....we've tried to run away and tell teacher like you told us to and they keep coming after us. It's taken a convicted murderer to have the cojones to confront and stop this guy.
As a government you have a "duty of care" towards the nation,and also towards it's citizens.you are failing.

ironically the guy that stopped him ,being a felon,would not have been permitted any firearm since his conviction.

In the states,we've just seen footage of that church shooter. The congregation at large are all ducking and running for cover when the guy opens up.....and luckily for them there was an off duty cop with concealed carry that had the tools and inclination to return fire. Had all the congregation been unarmed that could have been a massacre...in the end there was only 4 deaths including the gunman.It could have been a lot,lot worse.
 
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DarloRich

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we'll see about that.

I have a feeling that in the increasing likleihood of more london bridge type events,there will be a change of tune, with people saying to the government "hold on,you're preventing us from defending ourselves"....we've tried to run away and tell teacher like you told us to and they keep coming after us. It's taken a convicted murderer to have the cojones to confront and stop this guy.
As a government you have a "duty of care" towards the nation,and also towards it's citizens.you are failing.

ironically the guy that stopped him ,being a felon,would not have been permitted any firearm since his conviction.

In the states,we've just seen footage of that church shooter. The congregation at large are all ducking and running for cover when the guy opens up.....and luckily for them there was an off duty cop with concealed carry that had the tools and inclination to return fire. Had all the congregation been unarmed that could have been a massacre...in the end there was only 4 deaths including the gunman.It could have been a lot,lot worse.
No, we wont see. Shall we get a grip?
 

Howardh

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In the states,we've just seen footage of that church shooter. The congregation at large are all ducking and running for cover when the guy opens up.....and luckily for them there was an off duty cop with concealed carry that had the tools and inclination to return fire. Had all the congregation been unarmed that could have been a massacre...in the end there was only 4 deaths including the gunman.It could have been a lot,lot worse.
And if the gunman hadn't access to a gun in the first place....???
 

Grecian 1998

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If we went back to pre blair 1997,thats basically what our supreme court could do. Treason and piracy were both classed as the US equivalent of federal offences,and carried the most severe punishments.
As for it not being too popular, I think the vast majority of people would be of the opinion that some crimes are so heinous, and some people are so beyond redemption, that the only solution it to purge them from society.
Should it ever come back ,I would expect it in only very limited circumstances.

treason, piracy, plus a few other candidates like sworn al-quaeda/ISIS terrorists(london bridge guy if they'd have taken him alive), fred and rosemary west, the moors murderers and people of that ilk.
My comment was less about whether UK citizens find the death penalty acceptable or not, and more that they'd be unhappy with it being imposed by Washington rather than in these islands. Witness the campaigns in the past by organs such as the Daily Mail (not exactly known for its liberal approach to law and order) when the government has considered extraditing people to face trial in the USA where if convicted they would face a far harsher sentence than here e.g. the Natwest three. Although granted this was a white collar crime which tends to be perceived as less serious, regardless of its consequences.

Probably not federal law but the one that concerns me the most is jaywalking.
Jaywalking is a state offence rather than a federal one so there's no obligation to make it a criminal offence. AIUI in any case, a lot of cities don't enforce it anyway, although these are mostly the ones built before the invention of the car. The ones built since the car, mostly in the west, tend to be far more designed around the assumption everyone drives everywhere.


This is all entirely hypothetical since it isn't going to happen, but does make the point the USA may speak the same language and share some of its history with us, but it is a very different country to the UK.
 

Howardh

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Of course it must be pointed out that whilst the UK is one country, the mainland has two different legal/judicial systems, depending on whether you are in England/Wales or Scotland! Example, your case can't be found "not proven" in Eng/Wales! And tax...and laws....
Makes me wonder how different one place has to be from another to make it "independent" in it's own right. In the UK the lines are so blurred - made worse when you consider British Overseas Territiories and out own Isle of Man, Channel Islands etc.
 

najaB

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Having to adopt US (not UK) imperial weights and measures, which are different from those used in the UK in some cases.
Metric weights and measures are perfectly legal. As an aside the US has been officially metric for quite a while (since the 1960's I believe) - all the Imperial measures are defined by NIST as conversions from metric units.

From NIST:
Currently, both the international foot and U.S. survey foot are based on the meter, and in fact all U.S. customary units are based on the International System of Units (SI).
Having to drive on the right (which, ironically, I suspect some Brexit supporters feared Brussels would make us do sooner or later if we had stayed in the EU!).
I don't believe this is a Federal law. Certainly, it is defined in individual State's laws as well - e.g. https://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2010/transportation/title-21/subtitle-3/21-301/
 

TrafficEng

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haha!:D
1)driving on the right- could be done. Sweden swapped over in the 1970's. Roundabouts in london could get interesting though!
1967. But their road system was less complex than ours now is, and the preparations took a very long time. A referendum took place in 1953 with 83% voting 'remain' (left), but the government decided to swap anyway.

In the Uk it wouldn't just be the signs and lines that need changing. Roundabout geometry would need to be changed, traffic signal sides swapped, one-way systems reversed, and a solution found where limited-access junctions exist. You'd also need to find a solution to the bus and coach fleet with doors on the wrong side to use stops, and a vast amount of infrastructure such as flow monitoring, VMS signs, gantries, enforcement cameras etc would need alteration.

It could be done. But very expensive, and prepared for over a period well over a decade.
 

EM2

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Hypothetically if the UK (or at least what was left of it) were to become the 51st State of the USA, we would be subject to US federal law. But can anyone think of any US federal laws that wouldn't work in the UK?
...
Having to lower our speed limits on motorways (or highways as the Americans call them), which I think used to be 55 mph everywhere in the US (I think it now varies with the State but is still generally lower than in the UK).
I can't understand why you say this 'wouldn't work'? It's not that difficult to implement.
 

najaB

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Having to lower our speed limits on motorways (or highways as the Americans call them)...
I think you mean Interstate Highways. The 55mph limit only applied to Federally funded roads, so basically just to the Intestate system. State and locally funded roads could (and did) have higher limits.
 

Bevan Price

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Any UK government suggesting it would be committing political suicide.. Imagine the fuss over Brexit vs. Remain, and the protests would be at least 1000 times worse -- the thoughts of us being subservient to the likes of Trump or Pence (vice President) would horrify almost everybody.
 

FelixtheCat

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we'll see about that.

I have a feeling that in the increasing likleihood of more london bridge type events,there will be a change of tune, with people saying to the government "hold on,you're preventing us from defending ourselves"....we've tried to run away and tell teacher like you told us to and they keep coming after us. It's taken a convicted murderer to have the cojones to confront and stop this guy.
As a government you have a "duty of care" towards the nation,and also towards it's citizens.you are failing.

ironically the guy that stopped him ,being a felon,would not have been permitted any firearm since his conviction.

In the states,we've just seen footage of that church shooter. The congregation at large are all ducking and running for cover when the guy opens up.....and luckily for them there was an off duty cop with concealed carry that had the tools and inclination to return fire. Had all the congregation been unarmed that could have been a massacre...in the end there was only 4 deaths including the gunman.It could have been a lot,lot worse.
39374 people were killed by a gun in the US. In the UK it was 1851 62.
As a rate of deaths (IE: deaths per 100,000 of the population), that's 2.74 0.09 for the UK, or 11.93 for the US.

I'll address the knife crime arguments:
15284 people were killed by a gun in the US.
284 people were killed by a knife in the UK.
As a rate of deaths (same measure), that's 0.42 for the UK, or 4.16 for the US.

Overall, it is far far worse to have such lax gun laws.

Figures:
The 39,374 is for 2019 (most recent year) and comes from the website Gun Violence Archive.
The 15,284 is for 2019 and comes from the same website but with the number of suicides removed. It covers deliberate and accidental killing of another person. This is an underestimate because I have also taken off the 1556 incidents caused by defensive gun use. Some of these incidents are non-fatal, and thus would not be counted in the overall 15,284.
The 62 figure comes from the Office for National Statistics and a House of Commons Breifing paper from June 2018 (number CBP7654). It may be an overestimate (I'm still not quite how much overlap the two tables have).

The 284 is for the year to March 2018 (most recent) and comes from a House of Commons Breifing paper on knife crime from September 2019 (number SN4304). It refers to homicides.
I took the population of the UK as 67.5 million, and the US as 330 million.
The 1,851 was a misinterpretation of another ONS dataset, and has been struckthrough. All other statistics that are struckthrough originate from that number.
 
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Bald Rick

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39374 people were killed by a gun in the US. In the UK it was 1851.
As a rate of deaths (IE: deaths per 100,000 of the population), that's 2.74 for the UK, or 11.93 for the US.

I'll address the knife crime arguments:
15284 people were killed by a gun in the US.
284 people were killed by a knife in the UK.
As a rate of deaths (same measure), that's 0.42 for the UK, or 4.16 for the US.

Overall, it is far far worse to have such lax gun laws.

Figures:
The 39,374 is for 2019 (most recent year) and comes from the website Gun Violence Archive.
The 15,284 is for 2019 and comes from the same website but with the number of suicides removed. It covers deliberate and accidental killing of another person. This is an underestimate because I have also taken off the 1556 incidents caused by defensive gun use. Some of these incidents are non-fatal, and thus would not be counted in the overall 15,284.
The 1,851 is for 2018 (most recent year) and comes from the Office for National Statistics.
The 284 is for the year to March 2018 (most recent) and comes from a House of Commons Breifing paper on knife crime from September 2019 (number SN4304). It refers to homicides.
I took the population of the UK as 67.5 million, and the US as 330 million.

I can’t believe there were 1851 gun related deaths in the U.K. in 2018. Given that there were fewer than 30 gun related homicides, that’s a lot of suicide / accidents / police action.
 

Butts

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Interesting that no Federal Laws have been enacted with regard to Smoking in the USA.

It is legislated at below that level leaving some States with virtually no restrictions and others with draconian European type prohibitions.

Would be like having smoking in pubs in Yorkshire but not in Lancashire !!

Must be quite confusing for smokers traversing the good olde US of A.

Although I suppose we did have a comparison in the UK albeit only for a year or so when Scotland banned it first, followed by Wales then Northern Ireland and England.
 
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Bantamzen

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we'll see about that.

I have a feeling that in the increasing likleihood of more london bridge type events,there will be a change of tune, with people saying to the government "hold on,you're preventing us from defending ourselves"....we've tried to run away and tell teacher like you told us to and they keep coming after us. It's taken a convicted murderer to have the cojones to confront and stop this guy.
As a government you have a "duty of care" towards the nation,and also towards it's citizens.you are failing.

ironically the guy that stopped him ,being a felon,would not have been permitted any firearm since his conviction.

In the states,we've just seen footage of that church shooter. The congregation at large are all ducking and running for cover when the guy opens up.....and luckily for them there was an off duty cop with concealed carry that had the tools and inclination to return fire. Had all the congregation been unarmed that could have been a massacre...in the end there was only 4 deaths including the gunman.It could have been a lot,lot worse.
In the UK the vast majority of people don't even have access to a gun. This is why mass shootings are so much more rarer here than in the US. So thanks, but not thanks. We don't want or need US style guns laws.
 

DaleCooper

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39374 people were killed by a gun in the US. In the UK it was 1851.
As a rate of deaths (IE: deaths per 100,000 of the population), that's 2.74 for the UK, or 11.93 for the US.

The 1,851 is for 2018 (most recent year) and comes from the Office for National Statistics.
Please provide a link for this as I can't find anything close to this figure.
 

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Cowley

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Isn’t that from 1980 to 2018? So an average of something like 48 deaths a year.
 

FelixtheCat

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I’m afraid you’ve misinterpreted the data. The 1851 is the total of all types of death; those related to firearms are only those with specific codes. I’ll add them up shortly. (Working off phone so can’t use excel functions).
Ah, that makes far more sense. I can go through said document and re-do the stats. Thanks for spotting.
 

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