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 Travel to Canada with a Public Intoxication Offense?

If an American citizen has ever been arrested, they could have problems entering Canada unless they can prove the equivalent offense north of the border is not a potentially serious crime. Even a ticket or civil citation can be an issue at the Canadian border. Public intoxication is a federal crime in Canada, but it is only punishable on summary conviction carrying a maximum of six months in jail. Consequently, a single offense for being drunk in public should not render a US citizen inadmissible to Canada on grounds of criminality.

If an American has more than one public intoxication infraction or conviction, however, they may be inadmissible to Canada and at risk of a border denial unless they obtain special permission to enter. According to Canada's border rules, which are listed in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), a foreign national can be considered criminally inadmissible for "two offenses not arising out of a single occurrence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute offenses under an Act of Parliament." There is no requirement that the offenses be equivalent to an indictable crime in Canada, so even two civil tickets or violations can trigger a border refusal despite not being criminal where they happened. Permission to enter Canada with a criminal history can be obtained by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation.

Have a minor criminal history? Received a fine or misdemeanor conviction for being drunk in public? Before attempting to cross the border you can contact our Canadian immigration law firm for a free consultation!

Example Scenarios

An American could be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada for two or more of the following offenses:

  • public intoxication
  • drinking in public
  • disorderly conduct
  • disturbing the peace
  • drunk and disorderly

An American could be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada for one of the following offenses:

  • resisting arrest
  • domestic violence
  • intimidation
  • trespassing
  • assault
  • battery
  • harassment
  • criminal threatening
  • terroristic threat
  • interfering with an emergency call
  • DUI / DWI
  • evading police

An American will typically not be inadmissible to Canada for the following offenses:

  • minor in possession of alcohol (MIP)
  • minor in consumption of alcohol (MIC)
  • underage drinking

Entering Canada with Old Arrests

Also referred to as "PI", public intoxication is an extremely common offense among young adults in the United States. Many college students can end up with a misdemeanor PI after a getting a bit too drunk at a party or off campus event. If an American has some old arrests or convictions for public drunkenness or similar offenses, they may be considered "deemed rehabilitated by virtue of time" and assumed safe if enough time has passed. A US citizen may be eligible for Deemed Rehabilitation if they have two or more public intoxication offenses in which all sentencing including payment of fines was completed more than five years ago. This only applies to violations that equate to a summary offense in Canada, such as drinking in public, disorderly conduct, or disturbing the peace. If a person has a conviction that the Government of Canada views as more serious, such as a misdemeanor for trespassing, resisting arrest, domestic violence, or harassment, they will not be eligible for Deemed Rehabilitation after five years. Getting into Canada with a dismissed charge or expunged conviction may be possible as long as the traveler has proof of the final outcome.

A citation for possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage by a minor will normally not be problematic when visiting Canada. Other alcohol-related crimes and even noise ordinance violations (regardless of whether they are considered criminal or were only an infringement of a bylaw) can lead to heavy questioning from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers, however. For this reason, if you have an arrest record and plan on driving or flying to Canada, it is advisable to bring adequate proof that you are admissible. According to Canada's border requirements, the onus is on the visitor to provide evidence of admissibility if challenged by border security.

In addition to causing issues when trying to cross the border into Canada, a criminal history can be concerning to a potential employer if the job would involve occasional travel to Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Montreal, or another Canadian city. For example: if an individual wants to get hired as a flight attendant with a misdemeanor appearing on their background check, the airline will often require proof of admissibility to Canada so they know the candidate can work international routes. If you are considered inadmissible to Canada because of a misdemeanor, unless you fill out a TRP application or attain Canadian Rehabilitation you will be at risk of getting turned away at the border.

Questions about entering Canada with a ticket or misdemeanor conviction for public intoxication? Contact our legal team today!

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