Does a DUI Reduced to a Reckless Driving Charge Affect Entry to Canada?
If it is an individual's first offense, and there was no motor vehicle accident or dangerous driving involved, it is common in many states
for a DUI or DWI to get reduced to a lesser charge such as reckless driving (including wet reckless and dry reckless), negligent driving in the first or second degree, or reckless
endangerment. While this is a significant reduction from an impaired driving charge, it is still a more serious offense than careless
driving, improper driving, or driving without due care and attention, and can render an individual excludable from Canada.
A reckless driving charge in the United States is most equivalent to the charge of "dangerous operation of a motor vehicle" in Canada.
This hybrid charge, found in section 249(1)(a) of the Canadian Criminal Code, may be an indictable offense punishable by up to five years
imprisonment, and as a result, any foreign conviction that equates to this crime can render a person inadmissible to Canada.
Depending on the exact nature of an individual's situation, however, it could be shown that the circumstances which resulted in their
charge are not the equivalent to the essential ingredients of the offense in Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that
Canada's dangerous operation of a motor vehicle statute is narrower than USA's reckless driving statute, meaning it is possible
for a reckless driving charge from any US state not to exclude a person from entering Canada.
A skilled drunk driving defense attorney may help secure a reduced charge with a reduced sentence for a first-time DUI offender. In states
such as California, the first level of DUI reduction that is generally offered by the prosecution is a "wet reckless" or "wet and reckless." While a wet reckless
can be a lucrative plea bargain depending on a drunk driver's case, it still implies that the individual was involved in an alcohol or
drug-related driving offense. Admissibility to Canada is determined by the Canadian equivalent of an infraction, and the language of the
wet reckless vehicle code may cause a person to be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada since any indictment related to driving
under the influence of alcohol may render a person inadmissible for entry according to Canadian immigration law. For this reason, alcohol-related reckless driving (wet reckless) arrests and convictions can prohibit entry into Canada.
A "dry reckless", however,
is a misdemeanor driving offense often defined as driving with a flagrant disregard for people or property, and the language of this
vehicle code generally does not mention alcohol. For this reason, a person may still be admissible to Canada with a DUI plead down to
dry reckless, although a lawyer should always be consulted about your specific case.
If you want to discuss the ramifications your DUI reduced to a reckless driving charge could possibly have on your admissibility to Canada, call us today or
fill out our free assessment form. Our Canadian immigration lawyer offers free consultations, and we will contact you within 24 hours to discuss your precise situation.