Nobody plans on getting into legal trouble during their spring break vacation, especially if you are headed overseas. It’s best to plan ahead, the U.S. State Department reported in 2010, that consular officers conducted more than 9,500 prison visits.

It’s important to remember that when you are in a foreign country, you must abide by their laws. And, laws overseas are often very different then those here in West Georgia. Let’s begin with a quick rundown by starting with your flight and ending with what to do if you get in trouble.

Airplane Rights:

It begins with receiving compensation if you are involuntarily bumped from your flight when it is overbooked (please note that there is no compensation if your flight is canceled because of weather). Also, if you’re stuck on the tarmac and the plane is not taking off, federal regulations now prohibit the airline from keeping you stranded out there for more than three hours. If your luggage is lost, you can be reimbursed. And don’t forget, when you’re on an airplane, the word of the flight crew is law.

International Border:

You have no rights whatsoever at an international border. You can be searched, detained and interrogated for any or no reason. Once inside, you are governed by the law of the country you’ve landed in and your rights as an American citizen cease to exist.

Research Your Destination:

Pay close attention to the details when researching your destination. There can be obscure laws such as drinking age, pharmaceuticals, even photography. However, drug violations are taken very seriously abroad. In fact, more than one- third of American citizens who are in prison abroad are there because of drug charges.

American Embassy or Consulate:

If arrested in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen should ask to contact the nearest American embassy or consulate. After arrest, most countries give foreign nationals the right to talk to a consular representative. Consular officers provide a wide range of services to U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad. Services vary depending on local laws and regulations, the level of local services available in the country in question, and the circumstances of the individual prisoner, according to the State Department. For more information on what do if you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of the law, please contact Michael Miller or Dustin Hightower at 770-459-5438 or visit

Miller & Hightower, P.C., Attorneys at Law

Your Partners in Your Time of Need