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Going to court while being a tourist

Alexandria, VA |

I'm in a tourist visa traveling around the US, and I just got a citation to go to Court.
I was driving, I just had my driver's license from my country and I forgot the International one at the place where I'm staying.
I lived in the area few years ago so, I showed the officer a previous driver's license from this state which was expired, and my country's driver's license which doesn't have expiration date. He gave me a notification to go to Court because I was driving with a expired DL. He also told me I wasn't doing anything wrong, he just wanted to check that the front lights of the car were working good.
The citation date is 2 weeks after I was planning to leave the country.
What should I do? Do I need to take a lawyer to help me? Can I do something else right away?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

Contact a local attorney immediately. All of us do free consultations so there is no reason not to.
Here are some things you should consider. 1) If you were charged with a criminal offense then not showing up to court could result in an arrest warrant being issued against you and that warrant would appear on the databases of border officials. The Department Of Home Land Security regularly seizes people at the border for outstanding arrest warrants.

If you are charged with a criminal offense but cannot be present at trial, an attorney may be appeal to get permission fro ma judge for your attorney to appear in court without you so they can resolve the situation on your behalf. We do this pretty regularly for minor criminal offenses.

Based on the information in your question my guess is that you need to hire an attorney to help you take care of this, but that your attorney should be able to help you avoid severe consequences.We do expired license charges all the time and regularly get them kicked out or reduced to minor traffic tickets.

2) if you were only charged with a traffic ticket then you can prepay the fine online at the Virginia Supreme Court's website and avoid coming to court. (If you cannot prepay the fine, then that usually means you have been charged with a criminal offense.)

Feel free to email or call for more information or if you want to get a phone consultation.

Luke J. Nichols
Spectrum Legal Defense
(703) 383-9222


If you do not appear in court you will likely be convicted in your absence. You can hire an attorney to appear in your absence so that you do not need to return to the country. If you have all the correct documentation showing that you are licensed, and the license is the only issue, it should be very straight forward to resolve - but it would need to be resolved in court.

This response is general in nature and is not legal advice. No attorney client relationship is formed by it.


You can hire an attorney to make a motion to waive your appearance on your court date, and can likely get it resolved without your presence required. You can also try to move the court date up if the officer has a court date before you leave the country. Before you leave, and if you hire an attorney make sure to give him/her copies of all of your licenses before you go. You are required to carry with you both your international driver's license and your home country license when you travel here if you are visiting. Otherwise you are actually guilty of not having a driver's license in your possession, however the police officer cannot verify your right to drive anywhere but here.

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