In the United States, DUI offenders can lose their license, pay hefty fines and attorney fees, be forced to install an ignition interlock device, serve jail time and face consequences that impact all aspects of life. What about travel? If you enjoy visiting other countries, going on road trips, travelling for business or pleasure, be aware of the requirements other countries place on letting DUI offenders in.
Visiting a foreign country as a DUI offender is not as easy as simply showing up at the border with a valid United States passport. If you have ever been arrested or convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, regardless of whether it was a misdemeanor or felony offense, you may be criminally inadmissible to Canada and denied entry. Regardless of whether or not you have any intention to drive while in the country, a DUI (including civil infractions and “Actual Physical Control DUI” violations) can cause you to get turned away at the border, rejections of applying for a visa or showing up at the immigration entryways in a foreign country and being denied entry. A DUI offense and can also impede access to programs made available to immigrants.
Most European countries and the Schengen Area in general do not have restrictions for DUI offenders. Canada, on the other hand, is quite different – they take DUI very seriously. Canada denies DUI offenders entry into their country because they consider a DUI or DWI as a Federal criminal offense and the consequences are similar to those of the US. To overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada, for example, a person must correctly apply for and then successfully receive permission from Canadian legal authorities to visit the country. Unfortunately, getting permission to enter Canada can be a highly complex legal process that could easily overwhelm someone without professional assistance. Canadian authorities will turn away anyone convicted of a DUI but will forgive a DUI or DWI within 10 or more years if the proper procedures are followed. When you traveling to Canada, border patrol will do a background check on every passenger arriving by car, plane or boat. If you travel to Canada by airplane, a CBSA Declaration Card is required, which is needed to present to security on arrival. When at the border in a vehicle, border patrol performs a background check, even if they are not driving. The Canadian Border Services Agency is able to access information on people through FBI criminal databases and is able to pull up information within 30 seconds per person at first inspection., so there is no point in lying to border patrol or security, because it will just make things worse. If you lie to border patrol about have a DUI or DWI on your criminal record, or even try to enter Canada at a different Port of Entry (POE), multiple times in the same day without being legally able to, Canada has the right to ban you from the country all together.
You will be able to enter Canada if you have followed the proper legal channels and if you do not have more that one DUI on your record. Once a DUI offender has completed all of the requirements for a DUI conviction, including taking a DUI course such as the Level 1 8-hour course offered by ABC Drive Safe, they can visit the consulate of the country they want to visit to complete the application process for “Criminal Rehabilitation”. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and DUI Entry provide more information about travelling to Canada as a DUI offender.