If you have a DUI, you may be inadmissible in Canada for at least 10 years. A DUI is considered a criminal offence in Canada and can be prosecuted as an indictable offense (felony) punishable by up to ten years in prison. It is a hybrid crime, meaning that the Crown Prosecutor can choose to prosecute the offense on a summary basis (misdemeanor) or as an indictment (felony). A repeated DUI is often considered a felony, and if someone has three previous misdemeanor convictions within a ten-year period, it is charged as a felony.
A DUI conviction will appear on the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC) record and will remain there for 10 years. In 1921, the Parliament of Canada first created a summary conviction for drinking and driving, called drunk driving. At the time, courts interpreted intoxication to mean substantial drunkenness, and more than just being under the influence of alcohol. The minimum penalty for the first offense was seven days in prison, and the minimum penalty for the second offense was one month's imprisonment.
The minimum penalty for a third offence is three months imprisonment. Recently, an amendment was passed that increased the maximum punishment for a DUI conviction to ten years, as the offence is re-designated as a “felony”. This means that those with DUI or DUI-related convictions who wish to travel to Canada must wait 5 years after they have paid DUI-related fines to seek a pardon. It also means that they must apply for permanent residence after ruling their inadmissibility in Canada.
A person convicted of DUI will no longer be considered automatically rehabilitated after ten years. They will be allowed to seek “approval” of rehabilitation after five years, but the designation of “felony” means that the application and review process is likely to become more difficult and restrictive. Even if your DUI was declared dangerous or reckless driving (both reckless in dry and reckless in wet), Canadian border authorities treat it as a serious crime. If you attempt to enter through another port of entry without first addressing your DUI inadmissibility, the denial is almost certain and may result in a total ban on Canada.
An experienced admissibility lawyer can help Americans go to Canada with a misdemeanor DUI offense by helping them obtain a temporary residence permit or rehabilitation. Simply put, because a misdemeanor US DUI offense amounts to a crime north of the border that could be considered serious, Canadian border agents treat a US DUI as a felony. This background check usually shows if there is any incriminating evidence about a person's background, including a previous DUI or evidence of some type of felony. Now that driving with driving problems is considered a major crime in Canada, it is advisable that any American with an arrest or conviction for DUI, DWI, OWI, OVI, OUI, DWAI, wet recklessness or any other arrest or conviction for DUI in the past talk to a professional about their admissibility before attempting to enter Canada.