For most residents in Washington, Canada is a quick trip across the border. As of December 2018, this trip might not be as easy as people think.
Canada recently changed their Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (section 36), which impacts how DUIs are treated under the Law. In Canada, the new maximum sentence for a DUI is up to ten years in jail when it used to be five. Currently in Washington, the maximum sentence for a DUI is up to 364 days in jail (and a $5000 fine). In Canada now, a DUI is also considered a serious offense.
This change in Canadian law matters because any American that had a DUI conviction may not be able to enter Canada. Even one single DUI can deny you entry at the border. That DUI from 30 years ago when you were newly 21? It could still bar you from entering Canada. Even if you were arrested for a DUI, but plead guilty to a lesser charge (reckless driving or negligent driving for example) you still may not be able to cross the border. You could also be denied entry into Canada even if your DUI was not due to alcohol meaning the DUI could have resulted from marijuana or prescription drugs to name a couple. Being allow to enter into Canada can also depend on where you were convicted for the DUI (or amended charge.)
At the border, a Canadian immigration officer will decide if you can enter Canada. This officer has access to the FBI criminal database so he or she will run your record and will make the determination on whether you are allowed to enter. It is up to that officer’s discretion and will depend on many factors such as the reason for entering into Canada and how long ago the DUI occurred.
Even if you do not plan on actually drive in Canada, you could still be denied entry.
You could also be denied entry to Canada even if you have had your DUI expunged (meaning erased from your record).
As you can see, this issue about whether you can enter Canada with a DUI on your record is very complex. If you have ever been arrested in United States for a DUI, it is crucial to contact a lawyer for advice before attempting to enter Canada. Additionally if entering Canada is something you intend or hope to do and you are facing a DUI charge please contact one of the experienced DUI lawyers at Horwath Law.