When you’re convicted of a drunk driving offense, there are a lot of penalties coming your way. Some of them you might be familiar with. You know that you may have to serve time in jail. You’re likely to pay fines. You may even spend time on probation.
One thing that you may not think about when you face a DUI conviction is travel restrictions. Some countries restrict entry on the basis of a drunk driving conviction. Canada is one of those countries.
Can you go to Canada with a DUI? The question is complicated. Canada takes drunk driving offenses very seriously. If you have a DUI conviction, you may have to wait a period of time before you enter the country. You also have to prove to Canadian officials that you’re fit for entry.
Drunk driving in Canada
Canadian law treats drunk driving as a very serious offense. Often, what’s a basic misdemeanor drunk driving in the United States is a much more serious criminal offense in Canada. Most Canadians share the view that both the courts and immigration officials should treat drunk driving very seriously. If you get a drunk driving conviction in Canada, you lose your driver’s license for two full years.
Canada and breath tests
Canada also has implied consent laws. That means that if you drive in Canada, the law presumes that you agree to take a breath test to reveal your alcohol levels. In Canada, just refusing to take the breath test can be just as serious as getting a drunk driving conviction.
A ban on drunk driving convictions
Generally, the rule is that you can’t go to Canada if you have a drunk driving conviction. Officials can ask you about your criminal record when you try to enter the country. If you have a drunk driving conviction, you can be turned away. There are a few exceptions, but generally, the answer to can you go to Canada with a DUI is no.
What are my options?
If you have a drunk driving conviction, you have a few options if you want to travel to Canada. The first option is to obtain a permit to do so. This is called a Temporary Resident Permit.
The second is to wait a prescribed period of time and then make your case that you’re rehabilitated from your drunk driving conviction. Finally, if you wait even longer, the Canadian government presumes that you’re rehabilitated, and you can enter the country even with your drunk driving conviction. A DUI lawyer can help determine which option might apply to your case.
Temporary Resident Permit
A temporary resident permit is an option when a person is otherwise inadmissible to Canada. It’s basically an exception that your DUI lawyer can help you apply for if you need to go to Canada despite your conviction. To get a temporary resident permit, you must prove to the Canadian government that the benefits of your entering the country outweigh the risks.
You have to pay a fee to apply for a temporary resident permit. Even if you pay the fee, there’s no guarantee that the Canadian government is going to give you the permit. Even if you have the permit, a Canadian official can revoke it at any time.
If you’re lucky enough to get a temporary resident permit, it’s issued for a short period of time. That means, if you apply for the temporary permit so that you can conduct business in the country for a week, your temporary residence permit is likely going to be valid for the week. The Canadian government isn’t going to give you extra time for sightseeing.
You might have to interview as part of your application. There are documents to file and you must pay a significant fee of approximately $200 Canadian. It’s important to let a DUI lawyer help you prepare your application so that you have the best possible chances of success.
The next option to enter Canada with a drunk driving conviction is by proving rehabilitation. You must wait a certain period of time. This is typically at least five years. This is measured by the time your sentence is complete. The waiting period also begins after any period of license suspension ends. Your DUI lawyer can help you evaluate when your waiting period starts.
That means, if you’re sentenced to two years of probation, the clock doesn’t even start ticking on your five-year waiting period until you’ve completed your two years of probation. Your DUI lawyer can help you as you address your DUI charges. If going to Canada as soon as possible is important to you, your DUI lawyer can help you make your probation as short as possible.
If five years have gone by since your criminal conviction, you can apply to show the Canadian government that you have overcome whatever led you to break the law. There is a long list of paperwork that you have to complete. You have to fill out your complete personal information as well as describe the events that led to your criminal conviction.
You must give detailed information as to why you feel you’re rehabilitated. You should detail your substance abuse treatment. If you’re employed, it’s important to include dates of dedicated employment. You should include any community service that you performed. You can work with a DUI lawyer on your application.
If you’re convicted of only one or two drunk driving offenses, the Canadian government presumes that you’re rehabilitated after a period of time. Usually, this period of time is ten years. That is, if ten years have passed since your drunk driving conviction and you haven’t had any more problems with the law, Canada presumes that you’ve solved your substance abuse issues. Like criminal rehabilitation, the time starts on the waiting period after you’ve fully completed your sentence for the most recent offense.
If you have too many criminal convictions, the Canadian government says that you’re never rehabilitated. Additionally, if the criminal offense that you’re convicted of is an offense that can bring more than ten years of punishment in Canada, you are never rehabilitated. In that case, your chances for lawfully entering Canada are slim. Even so, it’s important to use a local DUI lawyer to evaluate all of your options.
What if you don’t plan to drive?
Some people assume that they can go to Canada on the condition that they allow someone else to do the driving. This is unfortunately not the case. When you try to enter Canada, there’s no distinction between planning to drive and promising not to. Each person has to follow the same procedure to prove their rehabilitation or wait the appropriate period of time before entering the country.
Only convictions count
To have a DUI prevent you from going to Canada, you must actually have a DUI conviction. If you are acquitted of drunk driving, you likely can still go to Canada. That means that you should work with a DUI lawyer to explore all of your options. If your DUI lawyer can work with you to successfully defend your case, you can still travel to Canada.
Work with a local lawyer
It’s very important that you work with a DUI lawyer to address any drunk driving charges that you’re facing. Your attorney can help you evaluate the case to see if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights. If they did, your attorney can file paperwork to ask the judge to throw out evidence. This might be completely fatal to the state’s case against you.
Your attorney can help you evaluate your options. A DUI lawyer can mean the difference between taking that business trip or hunting trip to Canada and having to make other plans. A local attorney knows the local courts and they can help you navigate the complex legal system as they aggressively help you with your case.