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Can I travel to Canada with a DUI Defense?

Posted by Raymond Ejarque | Jul 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

There are times when a person gets a DUI, and has to commute to Canada for work or pleasure, or has other obligations and cannot enter the country.

Generally, if you have been convicted of DWI or DUI (Driving While Impaired or Driving Under the Influence) within the last ten years you will not be able to travel to Canada.  Any type of impaired driving offence is considered the equivalent to the Canadian Criminal Code offence of impaired driving. This includes misdemeanor convictions.  Canadian law considers impaired driving to be a serious offence. In Canada, impaired driving is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08 or driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. However there is a waiver that can be submitted. It can be difficult to get the waiver approved and not something granted easily by the Canadian government.  For more information, please check out the website

A routine screen upon entry into Canada may include the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”  If you have been convicted of impaired driving – even if no collision was involved – you may be denied entrance.  Even with no other criminal violations. Think carefully.  Don't lie about any convictions, regardless of how ‘trivial'.  This is especially true if you're entering from the U.S.  Increased cooperation between Canada and U.S., as part of post-911 security measures, means that the border agent could already have access to criminal records. Lying/forgetting about a conviction could get you barred from entry into Canada for many years.

A person with a DUI may be deemed rehabilitated and be eligible for entry after a certain period has expired from the completion of the sentence imposed (which would include any driving suspension) on the conviction.   Depending on the offense, this period may be as short as 5 years or as long as 10 years. If a person cannot qualify for deemed rehabilitation, they may apply for individual criminal rehabilitation.

A person may not apply for criminal rehabilitation for 5 years following the original conviction (note the difference with deemed rehabilitation where the period begins with the completion of the sentence).  After this five-year waiting period (assuming the person has not been convicted of another offense) Americans (for example) can apply for “criminal rehabilitation” by submitting the following:

  1. An application form IMM 1444E
  2. A passport size photograph
  3. A copy of your passport data pages
  4. An FBI police certificate
  5. A state police certificate
  6. Copies of court documents indicating the charge, section of law violated, the verdict, and sentencing
  7. Proof of completed sentences, paid fines, court costs, ordered treatments, etc.
  8. Copies of the text of the law describing the offence.
  9. Detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding the offence
  10. Three letters of reference from responsible citizens.
  11. A non-refundable processing fee of $180 USD

Further information can be found at Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website:

It might be possible to get a temporary resident permit to enter Canada prior to rehabilitation, but this is up to the passport control officer's discretion and requires a $200 (Canadian) fee.  The temporary resident permit is meant to allow entry for exceptional circumstances, which would include reasons of national interest or on strong humanitarian or compassionate grounds.

When arriving on an international flight from the USA, you will be required to clear passport control, even if you are continuing to a connecting international flight with a destination outside of Canada.  If they find the DWI / DUI on your record they may send you to the immigration screening with potentially a very long wait time. Please check with the Canadian government before making travel arrangements.

A Seattle DUI attorney, Raymond Ejarque, can help with your DUI case and work with an immigration lawyer he knows well to get best outcome for your case.

This is not a substitute for a full consultation regarding the facts of your case. Each case is different and outcomes of case vary depending on factors involved in your case. Mr. Ejarque can review your case and can help you strategize to get best outcome for your case. Please call the Law Office of Raymond W. Ejarque for a free consultation at 206-621-1554 and check our website for more info on how we can help.

About the Author

Raymond Ejarque

Raymond Ejarque has practiced law since his admission to the Washington State Bar in June of 1994. He started his career in public interest law helping migrant farm workers and indigents in Texas and Washington State.  Later he worked in Criminal defense as a public defender in Seattle for many y...


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