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Alcohol & Drugs

Most countries do not have a legal drinking age, although frequently one must be 18 to purchase liquor, and it is not uncommon for young adults to have beer or wine with a meal. Alcohol is strictly prohibited in most Muslim-majority countries and in some parts of India. U.S. citizens have been detained for possessing alcohol in their luggage upon arrival in some Muslim countries. There are some countries that have strict laws about drinking in public. Many countries laws are more severe than in the U.S. so be sure to research the local drinking culture.
Existing legislation in most foreign countries regarding the use or possession of marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs imposes very severe penalties including include jail terms, hard labor, and even the death penalty. Association with illegal drug users or possessors is considered the same as personal use or possession by authorities in some countries. If arrested, you are subject to the host country’s laws and neither Millersville University nor the U.S. Embassy can protect you from the local legal consequences.
Drug Arrests:

Drug arrests and convictions among Americans are on the rise.  If you are caught with illegal drugs overseas, you are subject to local, NOT US laws.  If you are arrested, you must realize:
  • Few countries provide a jury trial
  • Some countries employ the death penalty, with no questions asked
  • Most countries do not accept bail
  • Pre-trial detention can often last months
  • Inhumane conditions may exist in the prisons
  • Officials may not speak English

Your Rights Abroad:

The rights an American enjoys in the States do not apply to travel abroad. Each country is sovereign and its laws apply to everyone who enters regardless of nationality. The U.S. government cannot get Americans released from foreign jails. However, a U.S. consul will insist on prompt access to an arrested American, provide a list of attorneys, and provide information on the host country’s legal system, offer to contact the arrested Americans family or friends, visit on a regular basis, protest mistreatment, monitor jail conditions, provide dietary supplements, if needed, and keep the State Department informed.