US & Canada

Woman jailed in US for driving with Canadian licence

Emily Nield says she wants an apology after US police arrested her for driving with a Canadian license Image copyright Emily Nield
Image caption Emily Nield says she wants an apology after US police arrested her for driving with a Canadian license

A Canadian woman is asking for an apology after US police arrested her and threw her in jail for driving with a Canadian licence.

Emily Nield, 27, was on a student visa when she was pulled over for speeding in Georgia on her birthday in April.

When she could not produce hard copies of her passport or birth certificate, she was handcuffed and taken to jail.

Charges were eventually dropped and her record cleared, but Ms Nield says she is still waiting for an apology.

After Ms Nield was pulled over for driving 87 mph (140 km/hr) in a 70 mph zone, the officer told her she could not drive with a Canadian licence.

"I tried to tell the officer this isn't right, my licence is legal, if she had just done a simple Google search, this would not have happened," she told the BBC on Monday.

According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services website, non-US citizens holding a valid foreign driver's licence are allowed to drive in the state of Georgia, but may be asked for proof that they are citizens of the country that issued it.

The highway she was driving on is frequented by many Canadians who vacation in Florida.

The officer did ask for proof that she was Canadian, and would not accept photographs of Ms Nield's immigration documents and passport. She was then arrested for driving without a licence.

"I was scared, I just kept thinking this (the arrest) is going to stay with me," she said. "It was the worst birthday of my life."

Ms Nield took a video of herself in the back of the officer's vehicle and posted it to Snapchat so her friends could arrange for a lawyer.

"I'm in cuffs. Help me! I don't want to go to jail," she says in tears.

She says she paid more than $778 (C$1000; £574) for bail and to retrieve her car from the impound. Three days later, the charges were dropped and her record has subsequently been cleared.

Ms Nield says she wants Canadians to know they do have rights driving in the US. She also says at the police station she was not allowed to contact the Canadian consulate, which she is legally allowed to do.

She also wants the officer to apologise for not knowing the law.

"I would love for her to reach out just say 'I'm sorry'," she says.

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