Canada with DUI

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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).

Does a Negligent Driving Conviction Stop Me from Visiting Canada?

In certain jurisdictions, a first offense DUI charge can end up being reduced to negligent driving or negligent operation. A misdemeanor negligent driving conviction may still equate to a potentially serious crime in Canada, however, and consequently such an offense can put an American at risk of a border denial. Criminal inadmissibility to Canada can be fixed by obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Rehabilitation. In some situations, it may be possible to argue that a negligent driving conviction is not an excludable offense according to Canadian law, but it would be advisable to always consult with an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer before ever trying to make such a case to border authorities.

Washington State Negligent Driving

In Washington State, a reduction to negligent driving in the first degree (often referred to as Neg 1 or Neg Driving) is commonly sought by DUI defense attorneys since it does not have mandatory penalties and does not trigger a driver's license suspension. Washington State also has a reckless driving statute, meaning a negligent driving offense is clearly distinguishable from reckless driving. Consequently, a legal argument can be made that a negligent driving conviction in Washington State is not equivalent to "dangerous operation of a motor vehicle" in Canada, which can be an indictable offense (similar to a felony in USA). This being said, the language of the offense contains the element "likely to endanger" which can be problematic to any such argument.

The RCW 46.61.5249 statutory definition of Neg 1 is "a person is guilty of negligent driving in the first degree if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or an illegal drug." Since endangerment to others is explicitly mentioned, some border agents may consider a visitor with such a conviction in their past to be inadmissible to Canada on grounds of criminality. Our firm has been contacted by many Americans who were denied entry due to a negligent driving conviction, so just because there is a potential argument that such an offense should not render a US citizen criminally inadmissible to Canada does not mean there will be no issues at the border.

Going to Canada with Negligent Driving

A common strategy for business travelers with a negligent driving or negligent operation conviction is to request an official Determination of Admissibility from the Government of Canada rather than gamble at the border every time. By submitting information and documentation to the right Canadian consulate for thorough review by specially trained authorities, a person will get the most fair and accurate assessment possible. If the Canadian consulate determines your negligent driving offense does not render you criminally inadmissible to the country, you can then travel there going forward stress free.

In some cases, a Legal Opinion Letter from a Canadian immigration lawyer may be advisable. In general, decision-making at the border is typically much less consistent compared to at a consulate (where admissibility matters can be reviewed and researched in detail). Consequently, if you need to enter Canada with a negligent driving or negligent operation of a motor vehicle offense it is typically best to deal with a Canadian consulate before you attempt to visit. It takes a significant amount of time to get an answer from the consulate, however, so bringing a Legal Opinion Letter with you to Canada may be the leading strategy if someone needs to travel asap.

If a negligent driving offense happened more than ten years ago and a person has no other criminal charges or convictions in their past, claiming grandfathered Deemed Rehabilitation may also be an available option provided the incident occurred before Canada strengthened their impaired driving laws. In cases where a negligent driving conviction is treated as an excludable offense by Canada, a visitor may need a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation in order to overcome his or her inadmissibility and avoid the substantial risk of a border denial.

Have a negligent driving conviction? Call our team today to learn about your options for entering Canada.

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