Legal Issues for International Students

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this section is intended strictly for informational purposes and is NOT intended as formal legal advice. While every attempt has been made to portray the information correctly, laws and legal definitions are subject to change and the accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed at any given time. If you need legal advice at any time, please contact competent legal counsel.

Traffic Laws

What is it?

Legal rules of the road are the general practices and procedures followed by people on roads, especially those driving cars or on bicycles or other vehicles. They govern interactions with other vehicles, and with pedestrians.

Who must abide by them?

  • Anyone driving a vehicle
  • Bikes/rollerblades
  • Pedestrians

Basic Traffic Laws

Safety Belt Law- Safety belts (seat belts) must be worn by all drivers and front seat passengers 18 years of age and over even if the vehicle has air bags.

Child Passenger Protection Act- The Child Passenger Protection Act requires the use of an appropriate safety restraint system for children under the age of 16 years.

Speed- The maximum speed limit in Illinois is 65 miles per hour (m.p.h.) on rural interstate type highways where posted. The maximum speed limit on most other highways is 55 m.p.h. You may drive at the maximum allowable speed only under safe conditions. When minimum limits are not posted, drivers should not drive much slower than the maximum limit.

Right-of-Way- Right-of-way laws tell all drivers who goes first in different situations. To yield means a driver gives the right-of-way to another driver or pedestrian.
Pedestrian Right-of-Way- The driver and the pedestrian are both responsible for traffic safety. There are certain laws that require a driver to give the right-of-way or yield to a pedestrian.

Passing- A driver should use caution when passing another vehicle. On a two-lane highway, the left lane should be clearly seen and be free of oncoming traffic for a distance great enough to permit passing.

Lane Usage-You must drive on the right half of the roadway.

Signaling- In a business or residential area you must give a continuous turn signal for at least 100 ft. before turning. In other areas the signal must be given at least 200 ft. before turning.

School Buses- You must stop before meeting or overtaking a school bus loading or unloading passengers.

Railroad Crossings- You must always stop between 15 and 50 ft. from the nearest rail when a STOP sign is posted or a signal is given either electrically or by a flag person. You must also stop if the crossing gate is lowered or when an approaching train gives a warning signal.

Prohibited Stopping, Standing and Parking- Stopping, standing or parking is prohibited in specified places. Local stopping, standing and parking regulations may be posted on signs. There are, however, statewide regulations that are not always indicated by signs.

Vehicle Emission Testing- Vehicle emission testing is required in certain areas in Illinois. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is required by law to notify owners of the scheduled test month and year for their vehicle.

Legal Consequences

Revocation- Revocation is the indefinite withdrawal of driving privileges by the Secretary of State’s office. To regain your driving privileges, you may be eligible to reapply for a license after a minimum of one year, unless otherwise noted.

Suspension- Suspension is a temporary loss of driving privileges. When the suspension is for a specific length of time, you may regain your driving privileges after your suspension has ended and you have paid a reinstatement fee.

Cancellation- Cancellation is the annulment or termination by formal action by the Secretary of State of a person’s driver’s license or permit because of some error or defect in the license or because the licensee is no longer entitled to such license.

Denial- Denial is the temporary denial of the privilege of applying for a driver’s license and, in certain instances, an instruction permit. A denial can only be entered on the driving record of an individual under age 18 for conviction of certain offenses.

Restricted Driving Permits- If your license is suspended or revoked by the Secretary of State’s office, you may be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP). Under Illinois law, an RDP may be issued to drivers age 16 or older to allow limited driving privileges for employment, education or medical care.

Judicial Driving Permits- A Judicial Driving Permit (JDP) permit is issued following a circuit judge’s order to a first offender age 18 or older serving a statutory summary suspension following an arrest for DUI. A JDP has the same restrictions and provisions as an RDP.

Probationary License- A probationary license is a conditional license issued in conjunction with a driver improvement activity that grants full driving privileges during a period of suspension.

Appearing in Court- If you get a ticket for a minor traffic violation, you will be required to post bond in the form of cash, a bond card or a valid driver’s license. If your driver’s license was posted and you pay the ticket before the first court date, your driver’s license will be returned.

Alcohol Laws/Some legal consequences

.08 Per Se- Law that makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle at or above .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration. Not abiding by this result in a DUI/DWI (Driving Under the Influence/Driving While under the Influence).

Child Endangerment- Law that creates a separate offense or enhances existing DUI/DWI penalties for offender who drives under the influence with a minor child in the vehicle.
Fake ID- A statute that creates an offense for an underage person to use a fraudulent ID and provides for a driver’s license suspension for attempting to purchase alcohol using a false ID.

Youth Possession of Alcohol- All states prohibit possession of alcoholic beverages by people aged 20 and younger; however, many states have one or more of the eight exceptions to this law.

Youth Purchase- Laws that make it an offense for an individual 21 years or younger to purchase alcohol and provide for significant penalties including driver’s license suspension.
Open Container Law that is TEA-21 Compliant- Open container laws prohibit the possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of any alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle.

Selling/Furnishing Alcohol to Youth- All States have laws prohibiting the furnishing of alcoholic beverages to minors.

Sobriety Checkpoints- An enforcement program that allows officers to stop all or predetermined vehicles to check for sobriety of the drivers.

Preliminary Breath Tester- Portable breath testing device used to determine BAC of suspected DUI/DWI offenders.

Mandatory Alcohol Assessment/Treatment- Mandatory alcohol assessment and treatment: law than mandates that convicted

DUI/DWI offenders undergo an assessment of alcohol abuse problems and participate in required treatment program.

Domestic Violence

What is it?

It is a crime where one partner abuses the other partner in a relationship

It applies to couples:

  • of the same sex or opposite sex
  • who are married or living together
  • who at one time have lived together but no longer do
  • who are the birth parents of a child, whether or not they have ever lived together

Forms of Domestic Violence

  • physical abuse—hitting, pushing, punching, choking, cutting, slapping, burning or throwing objects
  • verbal abuse—threats, put downs, criticisms and hurtful, cruel comments
  • psychological abuse—intimidating words and actions
  • sexual abuse—any type of unwanted sexual contact, including rape
  • social abuse—always checking up, keeping a person away from family and friends, or stopping a person from working to earn their own money (where permitted by law)
  • financial abuse—withholding or controlling all the money, or not allowing someone to have a say in how the money is spent
  • deliberately damaging personal property is also a form of domestic violence.

Legal Consequences

364 days of imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,500 and numerous other sentencing alternatives such as counseling, abstention from alcohol, and orders prohibiting contact between the batterer and the victim or victims.

Child Abuse

What is it?

Causing or permitting any harmful or offensive contact on a child’s body; or any communication or transaction of any kind, which humiliates, shames, or frightens the child. Some child development experts go a bit further, and define child abuse as any act which fails to nurture the upbringing of the children.

It occurs to:

  • Any child of any age, sex, race, religion, and socioeconomic background can fall victim to child abuse and neglect.

Some possible contributing factors in child abuse

  • Abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Dealing with stress
  • Difficulty in caring for children

Major forms of child abuse

Emotional Abuse: (also known as: verbal abuse, mental abuse, and psychological maltreatment) Includes acts or the failures to act by parents or caretakers that have caused or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders.

Neglect: The failure to provide for the child’s basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational, or emotional.

Physical Abuse: The inflicting of physical injury upon a child. This may include, burning, hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, or otherwise harming a child. The parent or caretaker may not have intended to hurt the child; the injury is not an accident. It may, however, been the result of over-discipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age.

Sexual Abuse: The inappropriate sexual behavior with a child. It includes fondling a child’s genitals, making the child fondle the adult’s genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism and sexual exploitation. To be considered child abuse these acts have to be committed by a person responsible for the care of a child (for example a baby-sitter, a parent, or a daycare provider) or related to the child. If a stranger commits these acts, it would be considered sexual assault.

Commercial or other exploitation of a child refers to use of the child in work or other activities for the benefit of others. This includes, but is not limited to, child labor and child prostitution.

Legal Consequences

A state may:

  • require a parent to accept parenting training or assistance
  • remove the child from the parent’s home and place the child in an alternate home, usually either with a relative or in foster care
  • terminate the parental relationship between the child and the parent. The child may be placed with a new family for adoption.

Legal Assistance on Campus

Student Legal Services

This is legal service provided by the University which students can use if they are enrolled in 6 hours of class or 1-½ graduate units, and have paid the SORF fee.

Location: 324 Illini Union (3rd floor, North Side)
Telephone Number: 217-333-9053
Hours: 8:30 a.m.- noon, 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday

First steps

  • You must walk in to make an appointment
  • You need to bring your University I-Card
  • The secretary will have you fill out information about your legal matter
  • You schedule an appointment with the secretary to meet with a lawyer approximately three days later
  • Available Services
  • Landlord/Tenant issues
  • Traffic tickets
  • Misdemeanor charges
  • Name changes
  • City Ordinance Violations
  • Small Claims
  • Auto Accidents and Insurance Problems
  • Other miscellaneous problems/issues
  • Notary services

Excluded Services

  • Claims against the University of Illinois or the State of Illinois
  • Income-producing activities
  • Felony charges
  • Contingent fee matters
  • Student vs. Student
  • Real estate matters (other than landlord/tenant)
  • Wills or trusts
  • Courtroom representation outside Champaign County
  • Immigration or international law matters

For more details visit the Student Legal Services website.