UNITED STATES LAWS
Even though you are a visitor, the law still applies to you. You must respect local laws, just as you do at home. The U.S. police can be very strict.
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 and region to region. Any type of illegal drug use is very serious, as the U.S. is attempting to control the trafficking of illegal substances. You are subject to fines and possible time in jail for any drug possession or association with people who have drugs.
Please be aware of U.S. drinking laws, which state that you must be 21 years old to drink alcohol legally in the U.S. In many regions, you will be asked to produce one or more identification documents (with picture) to prove that you are above the legal drinking age. Many bars will only accept a driver’s license or identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles that states your age.
A national campaign to raise awareness of “drunk driving” and decrease alcohol-related traffic accidents has swept the U.S. Phrases used for drinking and driving are Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The enforcement of DWI/DUI laws is very tough. To keep yourself and others safe, do not drink and drive.
Shoplifting and theft are taken very seriously in the US. If you are caught shoplifting at a store, the police will be called and you will be arrested and taken to jail. Stores in the US do press charges, even for small amounts of merchandise.
Local Law Enforcement
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 in the town or city where you are living to avoid any potential legal difficulties. Local laws, which govern alcohol consumption, noise levels, and group gatherings, are strict. Your best source of information will be your host employer, local residents and U.S. students who are living and working in the town or city.
Legal Rights – What to do if you are arrested:
If you are accused of having committed a crime, you should talk to a lawyer, before you answer any questions. Make sure you or someone you designate contact GeoVisions immediately.
Whenever you are arrested and charged, a judge will decide on how much “bail” you must pay for your “release pending trial”. Bail is a deposit that must be paid to ensure your appearance at the set trial date. Your bail is determined by the severity of your crime.
NOTE: Failure to appear at your assigned court date will result in the loss of the bail money, which has been posted by you or the bondsman. If you used a bail bondsman, you will owe him the full fee. This may also increase the severity of charges against you.