Travel to Canada If Convicted of DUI or Facing a DUI?

Many of our clients travel to Canada for business and are aware that having a pending DUI or being on probation for DUI can cause enormous problems.  They may have heard anecdotal accounts of colleagues who were unable to rent a car or even turned around at the airport or at the border while driving into Canada.

We also have had many clients facing a DUI or on probation report no problems in travelling to Canada, renting a car and conducting business there as usual.

If Murphy’s Law applies, you may not have a seamless trip to Canada.  So what is the standard or rules that can be used to make a visit to Canada a nightmare?  A DUI conviction in California (or in any other state) is supposed to prevent travel to Canada for a certain number of years.  Under Canadian law, anybody with a DUI conviction is deemed “criminally inadmissible” for at least five years.  

If one is facing a DUI charge, there is no “innocent until proven guilty” benefit of the doubt given.  Canadian law, not U.S. law, applies.  Canadian Immigration considers a visitor "criminally inadmissible" if the visitor faces pending DUI charges or has an outstanding warrant, such as even a bench warrant.

Canadian authorities can be quite strict about who is allowed to enter the country and even a "wet reckless" will count as a DUI conviction.  However, it is possible to overcome Canadian criminal inadmissibility of a DUI conviction, but it is tough to do so.  Nevertheless, it is perhaps better safe (to clear oneself) than sorry (try to get lucky and pass through with no problems – a big risk).

First, you can contact the U.S. Consulate, through a Canadian immigration attorney, to find out if you are “deemed rehabilitated” and cleared to enter Canada without any legal impediment.  This is possible if a minimum of five years has passed since you completed probation on your conviction for DUI and you have otherwise avoided further prosecution for any other crime.  Sometimes, more than five years is required by Canadian authorities if the underlying DUI is a second-time offense, there was a car accident involved. injuries were suffered or there are other exacerbating circumstances.   The number of years that you are required to wait depends on the severity of the underlying offense.   

 Second, you can apply for “individual rehabilitation,” which is different than being “deemed rehabilitated.”  Like being “deemed rehabilitated,” one must first wait until at least five years have passed after completing probation.  Then one will need to contact a Canadian immigration attorney, who will begin the process, which involves a rather extensive application.  

Third, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), which is available at any time, but are difficult to obtain.  It is best understood as an exception to the above two, time-consuming processes.  According to Canadian immigration attorneys, one must demonstrate “compelling circumstances” to justify the issuance of a TRP.  Such circumstances include work for humanitarian purposes or work in the U.S. national interest (it would probably be smart to explain how such work also helps Canada in ways beyond generating tax revenues). 

For more information about DUI consequences, click on the following articles: 
Contact Greg Hill & Associates    
Client Reviews
Thank you so much for putting so much effort in this case. We really appreciate it and we are happy that all turned out well.
★★★★★
Greg Hill did an outstanding job on every level. He was efficient, thorough, knowledgeable, courteous, responsive & brilliant. He welcomed my input and my concerns. . . from the first conversation to the last - I always felt 'it mattered' to him. S.C., Rolling Hills Estates
★★★★★
Thanks again for your hard work. We want you to know that we are very appreciative of all that you have done [on our son's] behalf. With warmest regards, L.H., Torrance
★★★★★
Dear Greg, Thank you again for all your help. Your professionalism and thoroughness is greatly admired. I will definitely recommend you to my friends if they ever need legal help. V.L., Carson
★★★★★
Thanks for investing in my case. I talked to other attorneys out there and they had an arms-length of attitude, but not you. Your intensity and interest helped a lot. C.R., Pomona
★★★★★