Traveling to Canada with a DUI on your record can be a difficult feat. You may be denied entry into Canada if you have been convicted of a DUI or DWI. And don't think that Canadian border agents will not know about your record. Border agents at every entry into the country are able to access a large number of criminal databases from the United States, allowing them to see records for everyone passing through their checkpoint. If you have a conviction on your record, be honest when the border agent asks. If you lie in an effort to hide the conviction you could be barred from entering the country for as long as several years.
There are ways for those with DUI convictions to enter Canada without issue. The legal avenues you need to take in order to get permission to enter Canada with a DUI on your criminal record can be difficult to understand and navigate. Working with an attorney experienced in handling situations similar to yours will allow them to quickly find the easiest way for you to travel into the country. Don't let your criminal history disrupt your travel plans. Contact a dedicated attorney with DUI Lawyers 24/7 today to schedule an appointment.
Can You Go to Canada with a DUI?
While it is possible for you to enter Canada with a DUI on your criminal record, you should expect it to be a more complicated process than simply presenting your US passport at a border entry. You will be required to file forms requesting permission to enter the country and wait for the approval. You also need to be prepared for the reality that you may be turned away from entering the country at all. Regardless of whether you faced a misdemeanor or a felony, if you have been charged with or convicted of a DUI in the United States you may be prevented from entering Canada.
Why Exactly Does Canada Deny Entry to People with a DUI?
Canada classifies DUIs as indictable offenses, which are comparable in severity to a felony in the United States. A Canadian immigration officer whether at a land border or a Canadian airport may turn someone away for being criminally inadmissible if their record shows a crime that would be an indictable offense if it were committed within Canada. What this means is that regardless of whether your DUI was a misdemeanor or a felony in the United States, in Canada it is considered a felony offense and you may be prevented from entering the country as a result.
How to Obtain Permission to Enter Canada with DUI
Having a DUI on your record may make entering Canada much more complicated, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you are banned from the country forever. In fact, there are two different ways that you can take in order to gain permission to access the country. They both require the same basic steps to apply for entry permission but are used for two distinctly different purposes. You can gain permission to enter Canada despite your existing DUI conviction through one of the following:
A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
The first option is a temporary permit that will grant an individual permission to stay in the country for an established period of time. You will be required to submit a valid reason for your visit during the application process. A TRP is an excellent solution for those with one-time reasons to visit the country or for those who are awaiting eligibility for a permanent grant. TRPs are not necessarily single-use passes either, in certain circumstances they can be issued to allow multiple entries for an individual who can provide a good enough reason.
Criminal Rehabilitation (CR)
Gaining entry through Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent solution to your DUI issue in the eyes of the Canadian Government. If you are granted Criminal Rehabilitation it is an acknowledgment that your criminal offense has been permanently forgiven under Canadian law.
This is a lifetime pass that you never have to worry about renewing and allows you to avoid denial of entry issues that could result from your past DUI conviction. There are eligibility requirements you must meet before you can be considered for criminal rehabilitation. Primarily, you must have fully completed your sentence 5 years prior. This means that any fines or court fees must have been paid in full and any further punishments such as jail time or community service need to have been completed for 5 full years before you may receive criminal rehabilitation.
This is good news for anyone with DUI criminal convictions on their criminal record. It allows you to fill out an application form requesting special permission from Canadian immigration officials to grant you access to the country. The downside is that it is never as simple as it sounds.
Canadian immigration law can be complicated and difficult to understand, and many people will end up needing the assistance of an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer. If you take steps early, your attorney will be able to help you work through your criminal inadmissibility in time for your trip, allowing you to focus on what you are doing rather than worrying about your plans getting derailed at the port of entry.
If you have outstanding drunk driving charges or convictions on your record for impaired driving you will want to get to work securing your permission well in advance of your trip. Process times for these applications are not quick. This will give you plenty of time to get everything in order and allow you to have a much easier time with any Canadian border officers who look over your entry.
Does It Matter Which State the DUI Occurred in?
It makes no difference which State you were convicted in. Wherever it happened, and regardless of whether it was a misdemeanor or a felony, it is viewed the same under Canadian law. Even if the charge was pleaded down to reckless driving if there is any mention of alcohol or other intoxicating substances being involved you may be denied entry.
It also makes no difference which acronym your state chooses to use for DUIs. Whether they refer to it as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI), or any other, they all fall under the same classification in Canada. Due to the severity of the crime under Canadian law, they are permitted to turn you away.
The number of convictions you have can also play into your reception at the border. If you have a DUI conviction or even an arrest pending trial you may make it through even without obtaining permission first, but it isn't very likely. If you have multiple DUI convictions on your record, however, you may not even be able to obtain permission to cross into Canada. While this is not explicitly spelled out in the law, it is exceptionally rare for Canada to allow an American with multiple DUI convictions into their country.
It is common to see Americans headed for Canada safely with the idea that their DUI conviction will not be an issue so long as they are not the ones driving. Unfortunately for them, this has no basis in reality. The United States and Canada allow one another significant access to criminal databases, allowing Canadian border agents to locate the criminal history of everyone passing into the country. Even if you are not the one driving the vehicle, you can still be denied entry for your DUI conviction.
In fact, Canadian border agents have gotten more strict when enforcing policies and entry rules regarding visitors with criminal backgrounds. If you have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and have a need or a desire to visit Canada you will almost certainly need to apply for entry first. Fortunately, an experienced Canadian DUI entry lawyer can help you through the process of applying for access to the country through a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). It is also a good idea to ask them about any updates to border crossing rules to help you avoid any trouble after you have been given permission to cross.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Enter Canada?
International travel involves subjecting yourself to the laws of a different nation. American citizens are often shocked to learn that Canadian authorities will not allow them to cross the border if they have criminal charges or convictions for a drunk driving offense. Canadian immigration law allows their immigration authorities to turn away international travelers who have a major crime in their history, and they place DUIs in this category. Border authorities will run criminal background checks on everyone attempting to cross the border, and are empowered to deny a person entry if they have been convicted of certain types of crimes.
If you have been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol you will likely be denied entry by Canadian immigration authorities. Even a single misdemeanor DUI conviction can render a person inadmissible to enter Canada. A border services officer may also prevent you from crossing for an intoxicated driving arrest if the charges have not been settled yet. You can work to anticipate and avoid these issues with the help of an experienced attorney and immigration professional.
Your lawyer will help you secure an entry waiver whether you need a TRP application or an application for rehabilitation, handle any legal documents, and ensure that everything is in place so that you have no issues with border officials while attempting to cross onto Canadian soil.
Our dedicated legal team at DUI Lawyers 24/7 is ready to help you handle any issues your DUI convictions are causing at the Canadian border. Don't let your past mistakes shackle you with travel restrictions. Call us today at 847-999-7616 to schedule a free initial consultation!