Canada with DUI

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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).

"I Entered Canada with a DUI" - True or False in 2020?

Many Americans are shocked to learn that Canada might not let them in because of a past DUI. In USA, most impaired driving offenses are only misdemeanors, and in a few states they can be considered traffic violations, so reading that a single DUI can cause an American to be denied entry at the Canadian border may sound like fake news. It is 100% true, however. A DUI is now a serious crime in Canada punishable by up to ten years in jail, so border patrol can treat them similar to a felony. What about all the people online claiming to have gotten into Canada with a DUI, you might ask? Well, let us explain some of the various ways a person can end up getting into Canada with a DWI.

#1 - I got into Canada with a DUI... before they changed their laws! A DUI only became serious criminality in Canada in December 2018. Before the laws changed, it was much easier to get into Canada with a drunk driving offense. If you do a Google search for "I got into Canada with a DUI" you will find many blog and forum posts of someone bragging about not getting denied entry by Canada despite having a DUI, but if you look at the date the post was made it is almost always before the rules changed. If you search "I got into Canada with a DUI 2020" you will notice a lot less people making such claims.

#2 - I got into Canada with a DUI... because it was old! If an American has a single DUI conviction from more than ten years ago, officials at Canada's border may consider the visitor "deemed rehabilitated by passage of time" and allow them to enter. Now that a DUI is a serious crime north of the border such an offense no longer qualifies for Deemed Rehabilitation, but old convictions may be grandfathered in under the previous laws although a Canadian immigration lawyer should always be consulted regarding eligibility.

#3 - I got into Canada with a DUI... because it was expunged! If an American had their wet reckless driving or DUI conviction expunged, which is possible in a couple states, it may now equate to a Record Suspension in Canada and no longer render the person criminally inadmissible to the country.

#4 - I got into Canada with a DUI... because it equates to a non-conviction in Canada! If an American was arrested for drunk driving but ended up going through a pre-trial diversion or deferred judgement program, upon completion of the process the offense may no longer be considered a conviction under Canadian law. The onus is always on the visitor to prove his or her admissibility, however, so any American with an arrest history should consider speaking to a qualified attorney before traveling.

#5 - I got into Canada with a DUI... because the agent did not know or did not care! While the Canadian border does have full access to the FBI's criminal database, the background checks can be random and occasionally a visitor with a DUI does not get flagged at the border upon presenting their passport. It is also possible that a visitor's DUI was visible, and the border agent simply chose to ignore it for some reason (although this is rare).

#6 - I got into Canada with a DUI... at the border agent's discretion! A DWI can render a US citizen inadmissible to Canada on grounds of criminality, but ultimately the decision is up to border patrol whether or not to let a traveler into the country. From time to time, an individual with a criminal history can be given a stern warn by border authorities but ultimately allowed to enter the nation. Some offenses, such as negligent driving, disorderly conduct, or a zero tolerance "Under 21" DUI, may not be concerning enough to the border agent to warrant a border denial.

#7 - I got into Canada with a DUI... because I obtained special permission to enter! If you search Reddit, Tripadvisor, or a popular travel forum such as Lonely Plant, you will find many posts about how a person managed to get into Canada successfully by obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit or TRP. If your trip to Canada is important and you have a DUI, it is advisable to obtain special entry permission rather than gambling at the border.

Worried about getting into Canada with a DUI? Contact our legal team today for a FREE consultation!

I Know Someone Who Traveled to Canada With a DWI, Will I Be Allowed?

If you are considered criminally inadmissible to Canada because of a past conviction for DUI, DWI, OVI, OWI, DWAI, reckless driving, or any other intoxicated driving offense, there will be a substantial risk of you being denied entry on each and every visit to Canada. It does not matter how many people you know who managed to get into the country with a DWI, if you are inadmissible you are risking a refusal of admittance every time. Even if you were able to cross the Canadian border with a DUI in the past, you can still have issues on a future trip. We have spoken to hundreds of Americans who were denied entry at Canada's border despite previously entering the country successful. Every trip is entirely independent, so even if a border agent used his or her discretion and granted you entry on a previous visit despite an arrest record, the next CBSA agent you deal with does not have to let you in. If you investigate how does Canada know a visitor has a DUI and how far back does Canada check for a DUI, you will learn that even drinking and driving convictions from 20 or 25 years ago can be a big problem.

How Do I Get Into Canada With a DUI?

There are two ways to overcome criminal inadmissibility so you can enter Canada successfully with a past criminal conviction. A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a short-term fix available to US citizens with a valid reason for travel such as business trip. It is possible to request a multiple-entry TRP for up to three years. Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent fix, and can allow a United States citizen with a DUI conviction to cross the border as frequently as they wish. In order to be eligible to apply for Rehabilitation, however, all sentencing including probation must have ended at least five years ago.

Should I Try My Luck at the Border?

Lets be honest, if you are reading this page you were likely searching for stories of people getting into Canada with a misdemeanor conviction for intoxicated driving. Perhaps you were hoping to find tons of examples of people who got into Canada with a driving under the influence offense which would suggest it happens often. Be careful! Tens of thousands of US citizens are denied entry at Canada's border every year, so even if there are hundreds of Americans who can honestly brag "I visited Canada with a DUI" it certainly does not mean the odds are good. If you fly into Canada with a drunk driving conviction you could be detained at the airport and flown back home on the next available flight, which would obviously not be very fun. The proper way to enter Canada with a misdemeanor for driving impaired is to obtain permission from the Government of Canada.

Heard someone entered Canada with a DWI? Questions about getting into Canada when you have a DUI? Phone our Canadian immigration law firm now for a complimentary consultation!

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