Entering Canada With a DUI

Getting across the Canadian border is not as simple a process as many believe. Canadians are especially tough when it comes to DUI/OUI law, as it will often affect who they let into their nation.

In the past, foreigners traveling into Canada would have to wait 10 years after conviction of a DUI/OUI related crime before they could visit the land of the maple leaf. Thanks to new legislation, it’s becoming even more difficult to visit our neighbors to the north.

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New Law

You may have seen the news that recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada after the passing of The Canadian Cannabis Act. The law went into effect in October of 2018. It’s because of this same law that DUI/OUI law in Canada is becoming even more strict in regards to who officials will let into the country.

The 10-year hold on travel to the country that was recognized in years past is mostly done away with. Most Americans with at least one DUI on their record had to wait out the period before they could be allowed back to Canada. Now instead, the new law could allow Canadian officials at the border to refuse admittance to anyone convicted of a DUI/OUI related crime no matter how long ago they were convicted.

"Those people that have been entering into Canada after that 10 years had passed can now have that undone and now become inadmissible again," an immigration attorney who specializes in Canadian and U.S. law told WIVB news.

This is major news to people who live and work near the Canadian border. It’s also a huge headache for Americans who conduct business in Canada who have a DUI conviction from decades ago that’s suddenly under scrutiny once again.

History of Strict Enforcement

Under the Canadian criminal code, DUI had been known as an offense of “ordinary criminality,” and in the past only carried a maximum punishment of five years of jail time in the country. These new changes now increase that maximum to 10 years behind bars if convicted in Canada.

Canada is known for treating prior foreign first-degree convictions that are reduced from a DUI charge the same way that they interpret actual DUI law in their nation. This is always apparent when a foreign criminal history is in any way related to recklessness, impairment, or bodily injury. The new legislation does not amend these existing policies. That means crimes that are considered lesser offenses here in the U.S. could still be treated just as seriously as Canadians now choose to treat DUI convictions.

Checking Your Status

Thankfully, there is a process to check your current status or appeal existing personal travel restrictions. The Canadian Government allows Americans to fill out an application online if they are visiting, conducting business, or want to immigrate to their country.

Regardless of whether you’re driving or flying into Canada, you have the option of filling out an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) for just $7 online before you go. This will give you an indication of whether you’ll be admitted into Canada well before you travel. Ultimately, either before you travel or during your actual border check, a Canadian Immigration Officer will decide if you qualify for travel to Canada based off of your criminal history.

It’s important to note that according to American border protection officials, when it comes to foreigners entering the U.S. “A single DUI conviction is not grounds to deny entry into the U.S. However, multiple DUI convictions or a DUI conviction in combination with other misdemeanor offenses can make a person inadmissible and require a waiver prior to entering the United States.”

If you have any questions about your legal travel rights, we’d love to help. Contact us at (508) 930-4273.

Surviving Your First OUI In Massachusetts

Call DUI Attorney Joseph J Higgins for a free case evaluation today at 508-930-4273