Students heading to Mexico for spring break vacation should exercise sound judgment when traveling, since an accident or arrest can result in both medical and legal complications, advises the U.S. State Department.
When traveling in a foreign country, students should be aware that they are subject to that country’s laws, and being a U.S. citizen does not exempt them from prosecution. According to the State Department, Mexican law can impose harsh penalties for violations that would be considered minor in the United States.
Some Important Legal Facts
- Alcohol is responsible for the majority of spring break arrests in Mexico. Drinking on the street or on public transportation can be considered a legal violation.
- Possessing, importing, or using drugs can incur severe penalties, including several years in jail.
- Drivers of any vehicle involved in an accident causing damage or injury to others are taken into police custody.
- Anyone over 16 is tried as an adult, if arrested.
- A valid passport is required to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico.
- Be aware that safety standards in general may not be the same as in the U.S.
- Pay attention to warning flags on beaches, and don’t go into the water if black and red flags are up.
- Use only licensed cabs marked “in sitio”.
- Exercise caution and read contracts when renting vehicles such as mopeds or jet skis.
- Have a valid drivers license with you when operating a car.
- Don’t carry anything that can be considered arms, even a small pocket knife.
If you are injured in an accident, or arrested, contact the nearest American consulate or embassy. If you have travel insurance or an assistance plan, contact the hotline number on your policy for legal and/or medical help. For more information on handling legal crises abroad, see Handling A Legal Crisis Overseas.