Crossing the Canadian Border with a DUI Conviction
Individuals convicted of a DUI or other impaired driving offenses like negligent or reckless driving are inadmissible to Canada. However, by filing applications for the appropriate permits or by working with your criminal defense attorney, travel to Canada is possible.
To help you understand your legal options, the DUI defense attorneys at Larsen Law PLLC, with the help of Larsen Law PLLC friend and Canadian Immigration Lawyer, Marisa Feil of FWCanada, have compiled the following FAQ blog about traveling to Canada post-DUI conviction.
Can You Cross the Canadian Border With a DUI?
Canada considers a DUI to be a serious crime and there is a concern that someone with a DUI will re-offend. However, Canada does not prohibit anyone with a DUI to enter the country.
If an individual obtains a Temporary Resident Permit or a Criminal Rehabilitation, they will be allowed to enter Canada. However, the decision to issue a TRP to circumvent a drunk driving conviction rests with the Canadian immigration officer who assesses the application.
Entry into Canada is deemed a privilege by the Canadian government, and you can be denied entry for any reason. The legislation even states that anyone convicted of an offense that is considered a criminal offense in Canada is inadmissible.
What Is a Temporary Resident Permit? How Can it Help Me?
Immigration officers at borders and at Canadian consulates have the authority to issue Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs) for travelers traveling temporarily to Canada for significant reasons. A TRP requires a person to show that they have a compelling and urgent reason to travel to Canada. It is possible to obtain this permit at any time, even during the five years immediately after your conviction.
Whether or not the permit is issued will depend on the following factors:
- The number of offenses on your record
- The severity of your offenses
- How long ago you completed your sentence
- Your reason for traveling to Canada
FWCanada offers free consultations and can help you submit a TRP application.
What About “Criminal Rehabilitation?”
Travelers who have completed their sentence (including probation) more than 5 years ago may also be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, which is similar to expungement and removes your inadmissibility permanently, so long as you do not re-offend. In order to be successful with your CR application, you must show that you now lead a stable lifestyle and are unlikely to engage in any criminal activity in the future. It is in your best interests to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation as soon as you become eligible, in order to regain your right to travel to Canada.
What About Drug Charges? Other Charges?
As you may have heard, marijuana is now legal in Canada - however, it is only legal to possess legal marijuana - that is, marijuana purchased from a licensed operator. The possession or distribution of other drugs (including illegal marijuana) will render you inadmissible to Canada.
Other charges depend on whether or not there is an equivalent offense in Canada. For example, possession of drug paraphernalia is not a criminal offense in Canada, so a conviction for that offense would not render you inadmissible to Canada. However, since Canada and the U.S have similar criminal justice systems, most offenses in the United States have Canadian equivalents.
Felony v Misdemeanor?
The classification of felony or misdemeanor in the U.S has no bearing on inadmissibility to Canada. Canada is only concerned about how the offense is classified per Canadian law, and we do not have misdemeanors and felonies, but summary, hybrid and indictable offenses. If the offense you were convicted of is equivalent to any hybrid or indictable offense, you are inadmissible to Canada.
What If Charges Are Pending?
The legislation that creates inadmissibility only applies to convictions or where there is evidence that the traveler has committed an act that is an offense in Canada. It is, therefore, worthwhile to have an attorney prepare a legal opinion letter explaining how you are not inadmissible to Canada.
What If I Am a Canadian Citizen but Get a DUI or Other Charge in the US?
Canadian citizens are always permitted entry upon the presentation of their Canadian passport.
What Steps Can I Take to Travel to Canada?
The best way to determine if you are likely to be admitted and to receive assistance with the preparation of the appropriate permit applications is, to begin with, free consultation from a Canadian immigration lawyer. We recommend you contact us, who can properly assess your situation.
Have Questions About Your DUI Charge? Contact Larsen Law PLLC
Contact Larsen Law PLLC if you require criminal defense representation in a DUI case. Our experienced legal team has a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system and can help you pursue a charge reduction, case dismissal, or acquittal.