Can I Visit Canada After a DUI Charge That Resulted in a Non-Conviction?
If an individual has been arrested for drunk driving but was either found not guilty in the court of law (acquittal), never had criminal charges
filed against them, or had the DUI charges fully dropped, entry into Canada should not be a problem provided they can prove the favorable result
to authorities at the border. Anytime someone is arrested and fingerprinted; a criminal record is created, and officials can access those records
indefinitely. Post 9/11, Canada and the USA share a lot of information with each other in the name of security, and
unfortunately, all these lists are not always perfectly up to date. The Canadian border can typically see a U.S. arrest record extremely fast, but it may take significantly longer for them to see the
final verdict via court records, and mistakes can happen where the file is never properly refreshed. Criminal information from sources such as the FBI's NCIC database as well as the
Canadian Police Information Centre database are now fully shared between the two countries. If an individual is on a list that has not been
properly updated to reflect that their DUI case has been dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge, then even after a not guilty or other "no
conviction" result it is possible for the individual to still get flagged at the border and be refused entry into Canada.
There have been substantial issues regarding delays in updating legal records, so it is
very possible that the criminal record accessed by Canadian immigration officials is years out of date and might not show
a DUI acquittal or expungement (pardon). For this reason, if you have ever been arrested for a DUI, we recommend you have a legal opinion letter prepared by a Canadian immigration lawyer before you try to enter Canada. A legal opinion letter can explain to Canada's immigration authorities exactly why a person is not
criminally inadmissible to the country despite the arrest appearing on their record. At the end of the day, the onus is on
the visitor to be able to prove to border security that they were acquitted of the DUI, so we always encourage people to plan ahead.
Court documents, current police certificates, and up to date driver abstracts are examples of evidence that can also be presented at the Canadian Port of Entry to
help prove that a court outcome was "no conviction." Even if an individual had their DUI expunged, pardoned, or removed through a diversion program for first-time
offenders, he or she might still need to prove this fact at the border. A pending DUI that has not yet reached a verdict in trial
is considered a conviction when going to Canada. Please note: if the criminal offense occurred in Canada and you were found not guilty or
the charges were withdrawn or dismissed, the border should have accurate information and entering Canada will likely not be a problem. Also, if your charge for driving
drunk was lowered to a wet reckless or dangerous driving charge, you could still be considered criminally
inadmissible to Canada and may not be allowed to cross the border.
Arrested for DWI but not convicted? If you wish to travel to Canada, contact us now for a free assessment.
Individuals who have multiple DUI convictions (whether or not they have an addiction to alcohol) often opt for a Deferred Prosecution or Deferred
Disposition to avoid jail time. While a DUI deferment allows a defendant to avoid mandatory minimum sentencing and often enables them to
drive provided they have an ignition interlock device, getting into Canada can be tricky even with a certified copy of the Deferred
Prosecution Order to show when arriving into the country. Although a Deferral of Judgment is not a conviction, and the final judgment
is "not guilty" provided the individual fulfills all the conditions imposed in the deferral, a legal opinion is still suggested before
attempting to visit Canada. There is also no presumption of innocence at the Canadian border, so until all conditions of the deferment program have
been fully fulfilled a person may be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada.
A Nolo contendre or Alford Please is considered an uncontested conviction for the purposes of Canadian
immigration and may render a person inadmissible to Canada without official permission in the form of a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation. On the other hand, Nolle prosequi is considered
a voluntary dismissal or "stay of criminal proceedings" by the state prosecutor or city prosecutor and is not considered a
conviction for the purposes of Canadian immigration, although once again a professional legal opinion is recommended before you
attempt to go to Canada. Depending on the circumstances, a Sealed Record can still render an individual inadmissible to Canada unless it is a result of the defendant
being a minor when the crime happened. A record that has been expunged is deemed to have never occurred for the purposes of entering
Canada, while a Foreign Disposition is considered a conviction for admissibility purposes provided there was a suspended sentence
(with or without a fine) or imprisonment (with or without parole) involved.
If you were arrested but not convicted of a DUI and plan to travel to Canada, call us today or fill out our contact form for a free consultation. Some alcohol or drug related violations may not considered criminal convictions for the purposes of Canadian immigration, but sentencing
can vary from state to state so the easiest way to know if the results of your specific case may be considered a conviction by Canadian
authorities is to consult with a licensed and qualified attorney practicing Canadian immigration law. A free consultation is by far the easiest way to get answers to any questions you have related to
drunk driving and the Canadian border. If you need to cross the border urgently with a DUI arrest on your record,
you may be happy to know that our team has extensive experience helping
US residents with previous DUI charges enter Canada for emergency reasons.
First-time DUI offenders often opt for diversion, deferred sentencing, or a conditional discharge in lieu of a conviction which allows them to avoid a criminal record provided they complete all the preordained conditions set out in their probation. These conditions can include
installing a vehicle interlock device, attending alcohol treatment classes, and only being permitted to drive to and from location of employment. It is possible for a person to be denied entry to Canada for contempt of court resulting from falling behind on child support payments or other
civil financial matters.
One of the more prevalent reasons for a person to be found not guilty of drunk driving is because the judge or jury found the breathalyzer to be unreliable (a DUI lawyer may push for this if even single error code appeared on the device during the traffic stop). If the breathalyzer was deemed by the court to be malfunctioning, the Police Officer's roadside sobriety test alone is often not
enough probable cause to justify transporting the accused back to the station for blood testing. Consequently, the highly accurate DUI blood test results may no longer be admissible as evidence, and the person may be exonerated of the impaired driving charge. This original arrest may still appear on the person's FBI file, however, which
is viewable by Canadian border security. For individuals who received a suspended sentence for their DWI, or who got an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACOD), whether or not they are considered ineligible to enter Canada depends on the exact wording of the documents.
Dismissed DUI Canada Entry
People are often left wondering if they can go to Canada after a deferred adjudication, absolute discharge, conditional discharge,
dismissed charges, or a pardon. People also do not always know exactly which documents an officer will want to see when they attempt to enter
Canada: a list of convictions, complete details of all charges, full court dispositions, pardons granted, court proceedings, foreign DUI
laws if the driving while drunk charge happened outside of the United States? People who received a DWI while they were a juvenile also
do not always know how this affects their ability to enter Canada as it may vary depending on if they were convicted as a young offender or as an
adult. Again, the best way to get real answers to your questions is to speak with an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer. Many states have administrative penalties for people who drink and drive but are below the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence. In Florida, for example, a BAC level of 0.02% or higher can result in a six month or longer suspended license, and
a BAC of 0.05% or higher can result in a longer license suspension that only ends after you complete an evaluation and course related to substance abuse. In general, an administrative penalty alone will not cause the border to deny admission to an American unless your Blood Alcohol Content was 0.08 or above, but it is always best to speak with a qualified
lawyer about your exact scenario.
Even after being exonerated of a crime such as drunk driving, your original arrest is still visible on your FBI criminal record check
which the Canadian border can access. For this reason, it is extremely important that you can prove your admissibility to Canada's immigration
officials if challenged. Questions? Phone us today for a free consultation!