People who are convicted of drunk driving offenses typically face a variety of restrictions. Even for a first offense, offenders’ driving privileges are generally affected for at least 90 days. Considering that a driver’s license can be suspended, revoked or restricted, it’s natural to assume that a DUI or DWI conviction can affect a person’s ability to obtain a passport. However, that is not the case.
As a general rule, a person’s ability to obtain a passport is not affected by a DUI or DWI conviction. In other words, passport privileges are not automatically revoked upon being convicted of such an offense, even if it’s a felony. Still, it is technically possible to lose the right to obtain a passport following a DUI or DWI conviction. Such a restriction may be imposed by court order or due to the terms of parole or probation. Also, if the court deems a person to be a flight risk while he or she is under federal arrest or facing a felony-related subpoena, his or her passport privileges may also be revoked.
While people who are convicted of DWIs and DUIs are usually still able to obtain U.S. passports, they may face restrictions when traveling to other countries. Canada is the most notable example. Technically, Canada reserves the right to deny entry to foreign visitors who have criminal records of any kind. That applies to misdemeanors and felonies alike. Therefore, even with a valid passport, someone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony drunk driving offense can still be denied entry into Canada. Those who absolutely must travel to Canada can sidestep the issue by obtaining either a Temporary Residential Permit or by applying for criminal rehabilitation.
Although a DUI or DWI conviction shouldn’t affect a person’s ability to obtain a passport, it is still wise to consult with an experienced lawyer before applying. A lawyer could also help ensure that entry into other countries, including Canada, will be possible. If you’ve been convicted of DUI or DWI and need a passport or want to travel to a foreign country, contact an experienced lawyer.