When you travel to a foreign country, you are subject to the laws that govern it. If you violate one of those laws while traveling, you may find yourself in legal hot water. This is true even if the violation was accidental. A run-in with local law enforcement can spoil a vacation quickly. Here are some tips to avoid legal trouble when traveling and how to deal with it if you do run afoul of the law.
Know How to Get in Touch With a Lawyer
You should have one or more useful contacts on file who can help you get in touch with an attorney familiar with the local laws and language while you are traveling abroad. This may include people such as court reporters Spokane, but contacts that are likely to be more helpful include the U.S. Embassy in the country you are visiting or a travel insurance company from which you purchase a policy. Keep in mind that, while travel insurance can refer you to lawyers who can help your situation, it does not cover your legal costs. You will have to take care of these yourself.
Do Not Try To Talk to Authorities
Unless you are traveling in an English-speaking country or you are fluent in the local language, do not try to speak to the authorities. As in the United States, what you say may be used against you even if you make an honest error in trying to express yourself in an unfamiliar language. Furthermore, law enforcement officers may not be sufficiently fluent in English to understand. Hopefully, the referral sources already mentioned can help you find an attorney who speaks both languages. Otherwise, you should try to request an interpreter.
Research the Country Beforehand
A little reading prior to your trip may be able to save you a lot of trouble. There is a lot of information online created specifically for American travelers to help familiarize themselves with the laws of other countries so they don't run into trouble while traveling there. Finding the information should be a relatively simple matter of performing a web search about the laws of the country you intend to visit. However, be careful to evaluate sources critically to determine whether they are reputable, trustworthy, and up-to-date. You should not rely on one source alone, look at several sources to confirm that the information is accurate. You should always find out legal specifics about the country you are visiting, but it may also help to know the general types of laws that foreign travelers tend to run afoul of when visiting the country. Examples of violations frequently committed by American tourists include wearing clothing that is too revealing or committing acts of obscenity by word or gesture. Another common violation is bringing illegal drugs into the country. The problem typically arises when the American traveler brings substances that are banned in other countries even though they may be legal in the United States. For example, pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that can also be used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine. In the United States, there are restrictions on how much pseudoephedrine you can purchase at one time, but it is not considered a controlled substance and is available without a prescription. Nevertheless, American travelers who take it with them to a foreign country for relief of seasonal allergies may find themselves in violation of the local laws.
Enroll Your Trip
The US. State Department offers a free service to Americans traveling abroad called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP provides you with a way to keep in contact with the local United States embassy if you run into legal trouble. It also helps family or friends get in touch with you in an emergency and provides you with updates via email on travel conditions in the location you are visiting.
Violations of local laws by American tourists usually occur due to ignorance and thoughtlessness rather than willful malice. Authorities may take this into consideration if you run afoul of the law during your trip. Nevertheless, ignorance of the law is generally not considered an excuse.
Publish Date: June 22, 2021 1:37 PM