Safety, Laws & Medical Assistance
The U.S. healthcare system is probably quite different from what you are used to in your home country. Your insurance is provided through your sponsor, and you should contact your sponsor if you have any questions about insurance coverage.
Urgent Care Clinics
The quickest and most convenient way for you to get medical treatment for non-emergency situations is to go to a walk-in clinic or urgent care center. Benefits of these facilities include:
- They are open on weekends and often in the evenings
- The wait is usually much shorter than an emergency room
- The cost is less than visiting an emergency room
- You do not have to make an appointment nor have a relationship with the doctor to be seen and treated
- Velocity Urgent Care, 757-772-6124
- M.D. Express Urgent Care, 757-564-3627
Emergency rooms and hospitals are for life-threatening situations. If you feel your life is in danger, go directly to the closest hospital for treatment and contact your sponsor as soon as possible Ambulances are for medical emergencies only.
- Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, 757-984-6000
- Riverside Doctors Hospital, 757-585-2200
When do you call 911?
If you have an emergency and need assistance from the police, fire department, or ambulance, dial 911. Do not call this number if it is not an emergency.
The following are examples of when to call 911:
- A fire
- A crime, especially if it is in progress
- A car crash, especially if someone is injured
- A medical emergency
The non-emergency dispatch number for Williamsburg is 757-566-0112.
Drugs, Alcohol, and Smoking
Illegal possession of controlled substances (drugs) in the U.S. is subject to prosecution by law. The penalties for drug possession vary from state to state. Any type of illegal drug use while in the U.S. may have serious consequences. You may have to pay fines or go to jail if you are caught with drugs or people who have drugs, including prescription medications not prescribed to you.
You must be 21 years old to drink alcohol legally in the United States. If you are under 21, and are found with alcohol, you may be arrested and subject to fines. In addition, if you purchase alcohol for persons under 21, you can be arrested and subject to fines. Drinking alcohol in public areas is also illegal in many places. You will be subject to fines if found guilty. Many bars, restaurants, and liquor stores will only accept a driver's license or non-driver identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles as proof of age.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Do NOT drive a car if you have been drinking alcohol, and do not get into a car if the driver has been drinking. Not only is your safety in danger, but DWI/DUI laws are very strict. You might have to pay up to $10,000 or go to jail if found guilty of DWI/DUI. Americans often choose a "designated driver" when going out with a group of friends. This person agrees to not drink alcoholic beverages and drives the rest of the group to and from their destination.
In Virginia you can get a DWI for riding a bicycle while intoxicated, and the fines are just as costly.
Americans are likely to be much less tolerant of smoking than people in other countries. It is illegal to smoke in many public places, so look around you before you light up; No Smoking signs are usually posted in a clear, visible location.