Traveling With A DUI Charge

Are you thinking about traveling to Canada? You better reconsider that if you have been convicted of a DWI or DUI (Driving While Impaired or Driving Under the Influence) within the last ten years. The reason why you may want to reconsider this is because any type of impaired driving offense is considered the equivalent to the Canadian Criminal Code offense of impaired driving. This includes all convictions such as misdemeanor convictions.

Across Canada, drunk driving is driving with a blood alcohol level (or BAC - Blood Alcohol Concentration) above .08 or driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. It is considered a serious offense if you fail a breath sample test requested by a police officer.

Some of the routine screening questions upon entry into Canada include questions such as "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" If you have been convicted of drunk driving this is a crime even if there was no collision involved. Because of this you can be denied entrance into Canada. Even if you have no other criminal charges this one charge alone can deny you entry into Canada. So think carefully and do not lie about your convictions. Even if you think they are "trivial" convictions. Especially if you are trying to come to Canada from the United States. The reason why this is is because since post-911 security measures have been increased between Canada and the U.S. This means that border agents could already have access to your criminal records by swiping your I.D. If you lie or forget some of your convictions you could possibly get barred from entry into Canada for many years.

It is possible that a person convicted of drunk driving could be deemed rehabilitated if they have been through alcoholism rehabilitation and be eligable for entry after a certain period has expired. This period of time includes the completion of the sentence imposed (which would include any driving suspensions) on the conviction. Depending on the type of conviction this could be anywhere from 5 to 10 years. If a person cannot qualify for rehabilitation then they can apply for individual criminal rehabilitation.

A person may not apply for criminal rehabilitation for 5 years following the original conviction. After the 5 year period (assuming they have not been charged for an additional charge) they can apply for criminal rehabilitation. You can apply by submitting the following:

  • 1. An application form IMM 1444E
  • 2. A passport size photograph
  • 3. A copy of your passport data pages
  • 4. An FBI police certificate
  • 5. A state police certificate
  • 6. Copies of court documents indicating the charge, section of law violated, the verdict, and sentencing
  • 7. Proof of completed sentences, paid fines, court costs, ordered treatments, etc.
  • 8. Copies of the text of the law describing the offence.
  • 9. Detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding the offence
  • 10. Three letters of reference from responsible citizens.
  • 11. A non-refundable processing fee of $180 USD

It is possible to get a temporary resident permit to enter Canada prior to rehabilitation but this is up to the discretion of the passport control officer and requires a fee of $200 Canadian to be paid. The temporary resident permit is meant to allow entry for exceptional circumstances, such as national interest or on strong humanitarian or compassionate grounds.

One more interesting twist on this involves transiting the Vancouver International Airport (and quite possibly any other Canadian airport). When arriving on an international flight from the USA, you will be required to clear passport control, even if you are continuing to a connecting international flight with a destination outside of Canada. If they find the DWI / DUI on your record they may send you to the immigrations screening which could potentially be a very long wait (they will not care if you miss your connecting flight).

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