Can I Travel Outside of Canada with a DUI?

The good news is that if you are convicted of impaired driving, driving over 0.08 or a refusal, all commonly known as DUI, you should have no issue travelling outside of Canada. The biggest concern for most people convicted of a DUI is if they can travel to the USA. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are notoriously difficult, whether you have a criminal record or not. That said, a DUI conviction is not an absolute bar for Canadians entering the United States. There is a published list of criminal convictions that will prohibit you from entering the United States, known as crimes of moral turpitude. DUI convictions do not form part of this list and should have no affect on your ability to cross the border either by land air or sea. 

Can I Travel Outside of Canada with a DUI?

Crimes that Make You Inadmissible to the United States

Many people are of the mistaken belief that if they get a pardon for their DUI conviction that nobody will ever know they had a criminal record. Unfortunately, your conviction will always appear on your background check anytime you are crossing into the United States. All criminal records are shared with the Americans and are never removed from their database. This means that even if you are pardoned for a conviction in Canada, it will follow you every time you travel to the United States. Fortunately, a DUI conviction does not bar you from entry to the United States but may still cause unwanted complications. 

Below is a list of crimes that will make you inadmissible to the United States:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude. This includes any attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime. It excludes crimes committed when the person was under the age of 18 years, so long as the person was released from jail more than five years before applying for a visa or other immigration benefit. It also excludes crimes for which the maximum penalty did not exceed one year in prison and the person was not, in fact, sentenced to more than six months in prison. See the more complete list of crimes of moral turpitude below.
  • A controlled substance violation according to the laws and regulations of any country. This includes trafficking and any conspiracy to commit such a crime. This includes a single offense of simple possession for a small amount of THC residue or for “drug paraphernalia.” It also includes the spouse, son, or daughter of the inadmissible applicant if that person has, within the last five years, received any financial or other benefit from the illicit activities, and knew or reasonably should have known where the money or benefit came from.  No actual conviction is required to trigger this inadmissibility.
  • Convictions for two or more crimes for which the prison sentences totaled at least five years. It does not matter whether the convictions came from a single trial or whether or not the offenses arose from a single scheme of misconduct.
  • Prostitution or commercialized vice.
  • A serious criminal activity for which immunity from prosecution has been received
  • Human trafficking offenses.
  • Almost anything that has to do with money laundering.
  • Do not even attempt to enter the U.S. if you have been previously deported without a proper visa. This is considered a serious felony under U.S. law and can result in extended jail time.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

The definition of moral turpitude is very broad and constantly changing. Below is a list of the most common offences found in this category:

  • Passing Bad Cheques
  • Assault Causing Bodily Harm or With Intent to Cause Harm
  • Assault with a Weapon
  • Assault with intent to cause bodily harm
  • Aggravated Assault. “Aggravated felony” is even worse, though these also have a very loose definition, therefore the offences can change over time. However, there is absolutely no relief, and anyone deported or excluded for this reason cannot ever enter the US.
  • Sexual Assault
  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Trespass with Intent to Commit a CIMT
  • Endangerment and Actual Injury
  • Child Abuse in some cases
  • Benefitting from illicit drug trafficking.
  • Prostitution and commercialized vice.
  • Involvement in serious criminal activity, where the person has asserted immunity from prosecution, departed the United States as a result, and not subsequently submitted to the jurisdiction of the relevant U.S. court.
  • Human trafficking, whether inside or outside the United States.
  • Laundering or aiding or abetting monetary instruments.

Avoid a DUI Criminal Record

A criminal record can have lifelong impacts on your employment, immigration status and ability to travel. The best way to avoid having to worry about a DUI criminal record is to avoid a conviction by hiring an experienced DUI lawyer to defend you.  Learn more.  

About Cory Wilson

Cory has represented individuals from all walks of life including lawyers, police officers, athletes, corporate executives, teachers, and everything in between. Cory believes in access to justice for every person charged with a criminal offence regardless of their economic background.

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Tel: 403-978-6052