Can I Enter Canada with an OWI?
Operating while intoxicated, or OWI, is a drunk driving acronym common in several states including Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. These
jurisdictions prefer the term OWI over DUI since the underlying act does not necessarily require a person to be driving. Any foreign national
that has received an OWI may be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada unless they have received special permission. Without government
authorization, attempting to enter Canada with a criminal record for operating while intoxicated can lead to a denial of entry.
There are two ways to get permission to travel to Canada with an OWI, a Temporary Resident Permit, and Criminal Rehabilitation. A Canadian
Temporary Resident Permit enables an individual to cross the border for a specific reason and limited duration. TRPs can be issued for up to
3 years, but require a valid reason for traveling to Canada. Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent solution to Canadian criminal
inadmissibility, but takes a year or longer to obtain and requires a person to have completed their full sentencing at least 60 months prior.
Have an OWI and interested in going to Canada? Phone us now for a free evaluation.
Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
OWVI or operating while visibly impaired is a common plea offer for people facing an operating while intoxicated or OWI charge. Even though the penalties
for an OWVI are less severe than for an OWI, it can still render an American inadmissible to cross the border without a Canada TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation.
Iowa OWI Laws
It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Iowa while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Anyone found to be operating a vehicle
when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, or with any amount of a controlled substance in one's body, can be
charged. Iowa also has an implied consent law meaning all drivers in the state must agree to have a blood, breath or urine test performed in
order to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs if the Police have reasonable grounds to do so. Refusing a breathalyzer or chemical test
will result in a criminal charge.
If a person's BAC level was greater than .10% or a motor vehicle accident occurred, in addition to the normal consequences of an operating
while intoxicated charge the individual may additionally need to install an ignition interlock device or IID in order to be eligible for a temporary
The state also has a zero tolerance law for drivers under age 21, and anyone under 21 found to be operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level
of .02 or more can be charged with an underage DUI.
In Wisconsin, an OWI can stand for operating while impaired in addition to operating while intoxicated. A first offense OWI in Wisconsin
can result in a $300 criminal forfeiture, revocation of license for 6-9 months, but does not typically lead to jail time. A second offense OWI with a prior conviction
within ten years can result in a fine as large as $1000 and five days to six months incarceration.
Michigan OWI Penalties
The operating while intoxicated law is 257.625 of the Michigan Vehicle Code.
A first offense OWI is a misdemeanor in Michigan State and can be punished by up to 180 days in jail, 360 hours of community
service, a fine of $500, a six month driving restriction, and six points against a driver's license. If the blood alcohol content (BAC)
was .17% of more than the penalties can include a one year license suspension, a mandatory alcohol treatment program, and an ignition
interlock device to drive again.
Whether you are an American citizen or a Green Card holder, an OWI arrest or conviction can cause an issue at the Canadian border if you do not fix the situation properly. Criminal
inadmissibility can also affect a person's ability to get a Canadian work visa or to study in Canada. Questions about entering Canada with an OWI? Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.