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).

Can I Attend the 2025 AA International Convention in Vancouver If I Have a DUI?

The 2025 International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from July 2nd to July 5th 2025. Approximately 48,000 people from more than 80 countries are expected to attend the event, which will be the largest convention or meeting ever held in the city with a footprint that will span both the Vancouver Convention Center and the BC Place Stadium. The 2020 International AA Convention in Detroit was canceled due to COVID-19, so many people are particularly excited about the 2025 Convention in Vancouver.

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is now a serious crime in Canada punishable by up to ten years in prison. Consequently, Americans who plan to attend the Vancouver AA Convention in 2025 may be at substantial risk of a border denial if they have ever been convicted of DUI in the past! Other offenses related to drinking and driving can also be problematic at the Canadian border, such as misdemeanor DWI, OVI, OUI, wet reckless driving, dry reckless driving, dangerous driving, careless driving, negligent driving, and physical control while under the influence. Civil violations for driving while intoxicated, such as DWAI in New York, OWI in Wisconsin, DWI in New Jersey, refusing a breathalyzer test, or drink driving in Australia, can also equate to a full DUI in Canada and result in a foreign national being denied entry at the Canadian border.

Other misdemeanor charges that can stem from problem drinking, such as domestic violence, assault, disorderly conduct, trespassing, drunk and disorderly, and public intoxication, can also lead to issues when trying to enter Canada. Even if a person is now sober, and will not be drinking alcohol while in the country, if they are considered inadmissible to Canada because of a past DUI they will be at risk of a border refusal unless they have obtained special permission to enter. This is because a person's reason for visiting has no effect on their admissibility according to Canadian law. Consequently, sober travelers hoping to go to the International AA Convention in Vancouver can still be denied entrance because of a DUI or DWI.

Special permission to enter Canada with a DUI history is available as a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation (CR). A TRP can enable an American or other foreign citizen to travel to Canada with a past DUI conviction, but is typically only valid for a single trip and requires an applicant to provide evidence of the importance of their visit. Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent solution that can allow an American with a DUI in their past to cross the Canadian border as often as they wish going forward, but is only available to people who completed all sentencing including probation at least five years ago. If someone is eligible for Rehabilitation, this is the route preferred by Immigration Canada. It usually takes about 6 months to obtain a TRP, and 9 to 12 months to obtain CR, so if you are an American interested in attending the International Convention of AA in Vancouver with a criminal history for impaired driving it is best to apply well in advance.

Want to travel to Vancouver in 2025 but worried you may have issues at the border? Phone our team today for a free consultation!

History of International AA Conventions

The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been around for more than 80 years. A loosely-knit society of alcoholics helping alcoholics, there are now approximately two million AA members worldwide. The first Alcoholics Anonymous International Convention was held in Cleveland Ohio in 1950. More recently, the event was held in San Antonio Texas in 2010 and Atlanta Georgia in 2015, and was planned for Detroit Michigan in 2020 but was canceled because of COVID.

Attending International AA Convention with Old DUI

If an American has a single misdemeanor conviction for DUI (or similar offense), they may be eligible for grandfathered Deemed Rehabilitation, and assumed safe by Canada, if they can prove all sentencing was completed more than ten years ago. Now that drunk driving is serious criminality in Canada, a DUI no longer qualifies for automatic Deemed Rehabilitation. Offenses that occurred before the law changed may get "grandfathered in" under the old rules, however. Enforcement at the border is often stringent, so if you have an old DUI it is advisable to consult an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer about your eligibility before attempting to drive or fly into Vancouver for the International AA Convention 2025.

I've Been Sober 20+ Years Since My DUIs, Am I Allow to Enter?

Americans that have more than one DUI or DWI will typically be inadmissible to Canada for life unless they file paperwork to convince the Canadian Government they are safe. Our law firm regularly gets contacted by people who were denied admittance by Canada because of DUI convictions from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Consequently, if you have multiple charges or convictions related to driving under the influence of alcohol you are likely at significant risk of a border denial even if they all happened a long time ago. Inadmissibility is determined by a black and white set of rules, and any visitor that is inadmissible under Canadian law is at risk of getting refused by border patrol even if they stopped drinking alcohol ages ago. This being said, if someone has been sober for a decade or longer, they are likely an excellent candidate for Criminal Rehabilitation.

I Have to File Paperwork Just to Visit Vancouver?

Many people are shocked to learn about Canada's strict DUI entry rules. We have already received dozens of calls from AA members across the USA interested in going to Vancouver in July 2025. Some already knew about Canada's DUI border laws and wanted assistance getting access to the nation before the International AA Convention, while others were calling to ask if the rumors were true and were surprised to hear how tough Canadian border agents can be on DUI offenders.

At the end of the day, only you can decide if it makes sense to apply for a TRP or CR just to attend the 2025 AA Convention. If someone lives in northern USA and will likely return to Canada again in the future, it certainly might be worth pursuing. If an individual will likely never go back to Canada, however, he or she will ultimately need to decide if attending the Vancouver AA Convention is worth it given the amount of paperwork involved in crossing the border with a misdemeanor or felony DWI. Some people might determine it is easier to just avoid going to British Columbia and wait for the 2030 International Convention of AA which will likely be in the United States.

Can I Gamble at the Border?

Entry to Canada is at the full discretion of border agents. Consequently, it is technically possible for a visitor who is inadmissible because of a DUI to get let in by a border agent. This being said, Canada knows about US DUI convictions thanks to information sharing between the RCMP and FBI. This allows them to instantly flag travelers who have an arrest history in the United States for drunk driving, and there is no limit to how far back Canada checks for DUIs. Obviously traveling to Canada so you can attend the International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous 2025 might be viewed as a low risk trip by border agents, but if a person is criminally inadmissible under Canadian law they are at risk of being denied admittance regardless of their reason for travel. For example, our law firm has been contacted by many US citizens who flew into Vancouver, so they could board an Alaskan cruise, only to get denied entry at the Vancouver airport and flown back home. Many of these individuals were going straight from the airport to the cruise ship terminal, and were not driving, but because they were inadmissible for a DUI and did not have a TRP or CR they were blocked from entering despite the short duration of their visit.

Due to the substantial risk of being denied entry, it is not advisable for inadmissible persons to attempt to enter Canada without properly addressing their inadmissibility even if it is obvious their visit will not involve alcohol (such as going to the Vancouver AA Convention). Likewise, even if a person does not plan to drive while in Canada, they can still be stopped at the border and turned away because of a drinking and driving incident in their past. If a person is traveling to the AA Convention in Vancouver BC from the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Australia, etc they will likely need a Canada eTA in order to board their airplane, which will often not be possible to obtain if you have a DUI or drink driving conviction. In such a case, it is usually not even possible to try your luck at the border if you have a criminal record, you will often need to get approved for an entry waiver or pardon before being allowed to fly into Canada.

How Can You Help Me Attend The AA Convention?

We are a Canadian immigration law firm focused on helping people enter Canada with a DUI history. Majority of our clients live in USA, and have various reasons for wanting access to Canada. Some have potential business trips north of the border, others have friends or family in Canada, and some people just want to know they can cross the border without a past mistake haunting them. A DUI is often a wake-up call for an alcoholic, and hundreds of our clients are AA members. When helping people apply for special permission to visit Canada with a DUI, we have often used a client's sobriety and regular attendance at AA meetings to strengthen their application.

We believe in the effectiveness of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, and even have a link to the official AA website from the front page of this website. We have already been hired by many US citizens interested in attending the International AA Convention Vancouver 2025, and expect to help many more over the next few years.

Questions about traveling to Canada with a DUI so you can attend the Vancouver AA International Convention? Contact us now for a free consultation!

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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!