A DUI conviction can have long lasting consequences in your ability to drive. Even if you are a first-time offender, you could still have your driver’s license suspended for up to 90 days, making it next to impossible to go to work or school.
Still, you may wonder Can You Get a Passport with a DUI on your driving and criminal record. Find out if you can still travel with a DUI and what it might be like getting a visa after a DUI conviction by keeping these important facts in mind.
How a DUI Impacts Your Passport
In all honest, a DUI probably will have little to no impact on a passport that you already have. The court will not force you to hand over your passport after you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated unless you are facing felony charges or have been placed under federal arrest or subpoena.
Otherwise, a misdemeanor DUI cannot technically stop you if you want to travel to a foreign country or if you want to travel with a DUI on your record. While you may enjoy relative leniency in the U.S. when it comes to keeping your passport, you may not enjoy the same freedom if you want to travel to a foreign country after you have been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In fact, using your passport with a DUI may be next to impossible depending on the country to which you plan to travel and visit. For example, Canada reserves the right to deny entry to foreign visitors who have criminal records of any kind including records of driving while intoxicated. Despite you having an unrestricted passport with a DUI, you still may not be able to get past customs at the airport because of your driving and criminal record.
Moreover, the entire question of Can You Get a Passport with a DUI on your record can only be solved by considering the specifics of your case. As mentioned, you can generally keep the passport that you already have. However, you may find getting a visa after a DUI to be more difficult if you have yet to apply for and receive a passport.
Many courts mandate that DUI offenders not be allowed to get passports because of their offenses. You must serve out any punishments handed down by the court before this restriction on travel can be lifted. If you attempt to get a passport with the travel restriction on your records, you will be turned down and could even face arrest for trying to travel outside of the country without the judge’s approval.
With that, what happens if you must travel outside of the U.S. for business or other reasons? Do you have to stay stateside until the court releases its restriction and you serve out your sentence? How can you get into countries like Canada if that country reserves the right to deny entry to foreign visitors who have criminal records of any kind?
The answer to these and other DUI travel-related questions are not easy. However, when you want them to be answered thoroughly if not to your satisfaction, you need a skilled DUI lawyer working for you and overseeing your case today.
How a DUI Attorney Can Help You and Your Passport Issues
A skilled DUI lawyer will be able to assess your case quickly and devise a plan of action that could allow you to travel to foreign countries easier in spite of your DUI conviction. This plan may include:
- having the DUI expunged from your record
- reviewing your case to ensure that your arrest was legal
- reviewing the results of your field sobriety test
- contesting the conviction based on the violation of your constitutional rights
- asking for a reduction or elimination of charges based on no prior DUI history
Depending on the circumstances of your case, any or all of these solutions could be used to clear your record and help you get a passport so that you can travel to and from foreign countries. Asking the judge yourself for any of these resolutions can be a complex and time consuming task. When you want the best outcome, you need a DUI attorney working for you.
Your lawyer may be able to review your case and find out if you were legally detained and arrested for driving under the influence. Did the police officer have due cause to stop and test you for intoxication that day?
If the evidence points to you being pulled over and arrested without due cause, the lawyer may ask the court to have the charges and subsequent conviction overturned. This action would clear your record and allow you to get a passport or enter countries that once turned you away at customs.
Likewise, your attorney can make sure that the results of any field sobriety testing were accurate and read correctly by the arresting officer. Many police departments do not offer extensive training in how to administer field sobriety tests. Police officers may misinterpret the results and wrongfully arrest you for DUI when in fact you are under the 0.08 percent allowable blood alcohol content limit.
If the test results were skewed or wrongfully interpreted, your attorney can ask the court to dismiss the conviction. You would then be free to use your passport and travel internationally.
Finally, if you are a first-time offender, you may argue that you should not be subject to the severest of penalties that are usually reserved for repeat offenders. Why should you be prohibited from applying for a passport and visa if you have never before been arrested or convicted of DUI?
Your lawyer can make the argument in court and ask the judge for leniency. If the judge agrees, he or she may dismiss the charges and have the conviction expunged from your record.
Because these solutions should be available to you from Day One after your DUI arrest, it is important that you know how and when to hire an attorney. You should be allowed to contact a DUI attorney immediately after your arrest, booking, and processing. If you cannot afford to hire one yourself, you could ask the court to appoint one for you at no cost.
Having an attorney appointed to you at no cost to you is one of your guaranteed Miranda rights. This right entitles you to legal counsel right away after you are arrested for DUI.
However, if you can afford to hire a lawyer to represent you, it is important that you know what qualifications to look for in a potential legal representative. Some of the questions that you should ask your attorney during your initial consultation include:
- How long have you practiced law?
- What percentage of your law practice is devoted to DUI law?
- Do you know how DUI laws will impact my passport?
- Can you help me regain my ability to travel overseas as needed?
- Who will build my defense case, you or your paralegals and assistants?
- Will you directly and quickly respond to my phone calls and emails?
These questions will help you vet and hire a lawyer who is more than capable of taking on your DUI and passport case. You should keep them in mind before you arrive to your initial meeting with your lawyer.
Having a DUI on your criminal and driving record can negatively impact your ability to get and use your DUI. You may not be forced to hand over your passport. However, you still may not be able to use it to travel to countries like Canada. Find out how you can clear your record and safeguard your passport and travel rights despite having a DUI on your record.