Can You Visit Canada with Underage DUI?
In the United States, DUI penalties for drivers under the age of 21 are particularly harsh. In most states, anyone under 21 operating a motor vehicle with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) .02% or higher can be cited for impaired driving under "zero tolerance" laws for underage drivers. Some states, such as California, are even more stringent about underage DUIs with laws that make it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to drive with a BAC of .01% or higher. And even less forgiving still, several states including Alaska, Arizona, and Illinois all have true 0.00% BAC zero-tolerance DUI laws for individuals under 21 years old. In these states, any BAC over 0% (even the slightest trace of alcohol in a person's system) can trigger a DWI for the minor.
A few states also have "hybrid" DUI rules that allow Police to not only charge young drivers for a .01%+ BAC, but to also charge drivers under 21 with a full blown "adult DUI" if their Blood Alcohol Concentration is greater or equal to .05%.
While the exact BAC threshold to trigger a "DUI under 21" varies from state to state (and many states have more than one vehicle code related to drinking & driving while a minor), for the purposes of Canadian immigration an underage DUI/DWI/DWAI violation may render an individual inadmissible to Canada depending on the exact situation. A "Baby DUI" with a BAC below 0.08 may not render an American inadmissible to Canada, while a DUI or DWI pled down to a lesser offense could. If the criminal offense occurred less than ten years ago, an individual interested in crossing the border into Canada may need to overcome their criminal inadmissibility with a Temporary Resident Permit or Streamlined Rehabilitation or risk being denied entry at the Canadian border.
Even after the DUI is erased via an expungement, a traveler can still face problems at the border. If a person was under 18 when the drunk driving offense occurred, however, he or she may still be admissible for entry into Canada provided they were charged as a juvenile offender.
Visitors to Canada must be able to justify their admissibility if challenged, so if you have any alcohol-related driving arrest on your record be aware that Canadian border officials may ask about it.
If you have ever been arrested or convicted for a zero tolerance "under 21 DUI" and are interested in traveling to Canada, phone us now for a free consultation!