Canada with DUI

Need Help Entering Canada with a DUI?

Call Toll-Free Within North America

DUI Canada entry

Canadian immigration lawyer focused on Canada DUI entry from USA. We offer free comprehensive consultations (unlike most companies who demand a retainer before assessing your options).

Can You Enter Canada with a DUI After 10 Years?

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is now an extremely serious crime in Canada punishable by up to a decade of prison time. Consequently, a foreign national with an equivalent offense in their past can be classified as criminally inadmissible for life and denied entry even if the incident happened 10+ years ago. Regardless of whether or not you plan to actually drive while in Canada, if you have ever been convicted of DUI, DWI, OWI, DWAI, OVI, OUI, refusal, physical control, or wet reckless you could be refused admittance. Even a non-criminal traffic violation related to intoxicated driving can be problematic, such as a DWAI from New York State or an OWI from Wisconsin.

It is possible for an American to cross the Canadian border with an old DUI by obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Rehabilitation. A TRP is an entry waiver typically requested for a specific trip. In order to get approved, an applicant must convince the Government of Canada they are safe and that their reason for travel is important or "compelling". Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent fix that can be requested once all sentencing including any probation has been completed for at least five years.

Want to enter Canada but have an old DUI? Contact our team today for a FREE consultation.

How Does Canada Know I Had a DUI 10 Years Ago?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keeps a database of documented criminal justice information called the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This database contains all criminal records from virtually every law enforcement agency nationwide including misdemeanor driving records. The FBI shares this database with Canada. Consequently, Canadian border agents can instantly detect a visitor with a past DUI even if it happened more than ten years ago. Canada also has information sharing agreements with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Department of Transportation (DOT) in many Northern states. Consequently, a civil infraction such as refusal to blow can often be detected at the border even if it was not considered criminal.

Grandfathered 10-Year Rule

Before Canada strengthened their DUI laws in December 2018, there used to be a ten-year forgiveness rule for people with a single impaired driving incident. If a visitor could prove all sentencing was completed more than ten years prior, and they had no other arrest history, they could be considered "Deemed Rehabilitated by passage of time" and automatically assumed safe by Canada. Even though a conviction for drinking and driving today can result in a permanent ban from Canada, their immigration policy can allow for grandfathering of some older DUI-related offenses. If a US citizen has a single DWI that happened before Canada's laws were changed, it might be possible for them to be "grandfathered in" under the old rules but a qualified immigration lawyer should always be consulted before attempting to traverse the border.

It is important to understand automatic Deemed Rehabilitation status is only ever possible ten years after all DUI sentencing was finished, not ten years after the conviction date. Even if the offense qualifies to be grandfathered in as non-serious criminality, if it happened exactly a decade ago chances are the individual is not yet eligible. The onus is always on a traveler to prove their admissibility if challenged by Canadian border agents who see an old misdemeanor for driving under the influence of alcohol. If a visitor does not have court documents or other evidence that their DUI from 10+ years ago no longer renders them inadmissible, they could have their entrance denied on grounds of criminality.

Claiming grandfathered Deemed Rehabilitation after 10 years is only possible with a single impaired driving conviction. If a person has any other criminal record, they will likely not qualify. For example: a person with two DUI convictions from 10+ years ago will not be eligible, even if both offenses are grandfathered in as non-serious criminality according to Canadian law. Eligibility criteria for grandfathered Deemed Rehabilitated status is black and white; unless a person with a past DWI has a clear case for admissibility they are typically better off applying for special permission to cross the border.

Had a DUI >10 years ago and curious about grandfathered Deemed Rehabilitation? Fill out our contact form for a free assessment!

Does Canada Actually Care About a DUI After 10 Years?

Americans are often shocked by how aggressive Canadian border officers can be when they discover a visitor has a record for drunk driving. Even before the Federal Government of Canada upgraded the nation's DUI laws, if a visiting party had more than one DUI in their past border agents could turn them away even if the individual had maintained a clean record for well over 10 years. Our Canadian immigration law firm has been contacted by people who were denied admittance for DUIs from as far back as the 1970s. Now that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) views driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol almost like a felony, a solo DUI can be an issue even after a decade. While misdemeanors often "drop off" state records after ten years, the FBI holds their criminal records indefinitely allowing Canada to see driving convictions from long ago.

I Had a DUI 10 Years Ago Can I Go to Canada if It Was Expunged?

Even after a misdemeanor DUI conviction has been sealed or expunged in the United States, it will likely still be visible to CBSA officers. Sealing your record usually has zero impact on admissibility to Canada, but some expungements may equate to a non-conviction. For example: a 10-year old DUI or wet reckless conviction in California that was successfully expunged via 1203.4 dismissal would likely equate to a Record Suspension in Canada, but an experienced attorney should always be consulted before attempting to travel internationally.

I Had a DUI Charge 10 Years Ago Can I Go to Canada if It Was Reduced to a Reckless Driving?

A reckless driving now equates to a serious crime and can render a citizen or permanent resident of the USA inadmissible for life according to Canada's border rules. Even if the original arrest was not for suspicion of DWI, and the conviction was for dry reckless driving with no mention of impairment by alcohol or drugs, the equivalent crime North of the border can now result in up to ten years of jail time. Consequently, an American with a misdemeanor for reckless driving may require a TRP or Rehabilitation in order to get into Canada even if it occurred almost ten years ago.

Can I Become a Flight Attendant with a DUI From Over 10 Years Ago?

In our experience, most major US airlines will not hire a flight attendant or pilot unless he or she has the ability to fly into Canada. Other jobs can have similar policies, especially if the company has offices or clients in Toronto or Vancouver. Consequently, if you want to get a job as a flight attendant with an international airline you will typically need to prove that your old DWI will not put you at risk of being denied entry upon landing at an airport in Canada. Even if you were convicted of driving while impaired well over ten years ago, an airline might not allow you to begin training class until you have first convinced them of your ability to access Canada.

To satisfy potential employers, commercial pilots that are likely eligible for grandfathered Deemed Rehabilitation will often request an official Determination of Admissibility from the Canadian consulate. If granted, the pilot would have a formal document issued by the Government of Canada stating that their old DUI will no longer put them at risk of border trouble which can make it easier to land a job.

Questions about going to Canada with a DUI from 10 years ago? We offer no-cost consultations!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Can US citizens get into Canada with DUI?
Can I go to Canada with a reckless driving?
Can I still visit Canada after being convicted for DUI?

How Can We Help?

If you have a DUI arrest or conviction on your record and need to enter Canada, call us now or fill out this form! 24 Hour Response Time!