Will a DUI Affect Crossing the Border from Washington Into Canada?

If you’ve pled guilty or have been found guilty of a DUI in the State of Washington, you can expect difficulty being granted entry into Canada. In fact, you can be barred entry and labeled criminally inadmissible for 10 years from the date of your conviction unless you’ve otherwise been determined to have been rehabilitated. That’s because Canada perceives DUI convictions in an entirely different light than the United States. Even if your DUI charge was reduced down to a “wet reckless” or simple negligent driving, you were still arrested on an alcohol-related offense, and on that basis you might still be denied entry.

DUI is an Indictable Offense in Canada

What’s pivotal in determining eligibility for entry into Canada is the severity of the crime if it was committed in Canada. Nearly all people who are charged with DUI in the State of Washington are charged with misdemeanors. In Canada, that same DUI offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. That makes it an indictable offense, and it’s the present policy of the Canadian government to deny entry of anybody into the country who has been convicted of such an offense.

Exceptions to Criminal Inadmissibility

There are two exceptions to the Canadian 10 year rule. Those are being deemed rehabilitated or being granted a temporary resident permit. A person who wishes to enter Canada might be deemed rehabilitated if he or she has not been convicted of any additional offenses within five years after completion of their Washington sentence. Application for rehabilitation must be made at a Canadian consulate or embassy. A permit for temporary residency is the quickest of the two alternatives, and it might even be granted in that five year period after a DUI conviction. The application can be submitted at any Canadian border crossing.

Entry is Discretionary

You might have crossed the Canadian border several times in the past without incident, but you ran the risk of being detained and possibly even being prohibited from entering Canada for the rest of your life. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re entering Canada by plane, train, boat or automobile. You’re crossing a border into a sovereign nation, and not just going to the next county over. Canadian border officers have broad discretion on who might be granted entry into the country. Don’t try to go to a different crossing with a different officer either. From the moment that you’re denied entry, you’re red flagged instantly on a database at all entry points. It’s highly likely that you’ll be detained and punished.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling to Canada from Spokane or Los Angeles, California. If you have a prior DUI or alcohol related offense on your record within the last 10 years, it’s likely that you have a problem. Prepare well in advance.


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