Can I Get into Canada with a DUI Expungement?
Most alcohol-related driving offenses fall under the vehicle code for a given state (example: California Vehicle Code, Michigan Vehicle Code, Florida Vehicle
Code, etc.) When determining admissibility, Canada immigration officials must identify the equivalent offense in the Canadian Criminal Code. This is done by examining the exact wording of the offense, which can vary from state to state, and then determining the corresponding Canadian infraction. When you expunge a DUI, the verdict essentially changes to "not a conviction, deemed to have never occurred." Although the exact
language can differ from state to state, for the purposes of Canadian immigration it always equates to "no conviction." For this reason, if a person successfully petitioned the
state to expunge their impaired driving conviction, any prior impediments that existed pursuant to the IRPA are removed, and the expungement should be treated
like it is not a conviction allowing the individual to potentially enter Canada without any problems.
It is important for Americans entering Canada with an expunged DUI to have proof of a dismissal, however, as
border agents might require proof of a not guilty finding. Since criminal database sharing between the two countries is not always perfectly up to date, and mistakes do happen, it may be possible for an immigration officer to see a person's DWI and not their more recent expungement (especially if the conviction was expunged very recently). For this reason, many people going to Canada with an impaired driving expungement get a Canadian immigration attorney to write up a professional legal opinion letter to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) explaining the situation in detail. The letter describes in legal terms the original conviction, the subsequent expungement (including the
specific language used in that state), and why there is consequently no longer a basis to deny the individual entry to Canada.
It is a privilege to be allowed to enter a foreign country and the responsibility always falls on you to be able to justify your admission at the border. If you have all the proper documents with you at the border, a legal opinion letter from a lawyer is not a requirement in order to gain entry to Canada, but with so much at stake many people prefer to have one so they do not lose sleep at night worrying that they will not be able to explain their situation accurately to immigration officials when under pressure. Think a letter of admissibility might help you be less apprehensive about entering Canada with an expunged DUI? Phone us today for a free assessment of your situation.