DUI Entry to Canada – Washington State DUI Statute and Opportunities

DUI Entry

Travelling to Canada

Unfortunately, the heightened security and law enforcement at the border has made a trip to Canada increasingly difficult for individuals with criminal charges. Seemingly, Canadian Immigration Law is just as complicated and perplexing as the U.S. Immigration Law. In addition, the border officials notably have wide discretion in determining who can and can’t enter into Canada. So we had the senior attorneys at DUI Canada Entry run us through the current situation for travellers with DUI convictions from Washington state.

Washington DUI Convictions

Quite a number of convictions in Washington D.C. can make one easily inadmissible to Canada, including reckless driving, DUI and Neg. 1. Basically, inadmissibility is determined by a comparison of elements of crime in Washington State with those of Canadian criminal offenses. That implies that criminal inadmissibility is dependent on how that equivalent offense would be treated in Canada, rather than in the country of the conviction’s occurrence.

DUI Entry to Canada, Washington DUI Statute

In most cases, Americans with criminal records from Washington D.C. may have succeeded to travel into and from Canada without many problems. This is well attributable to the fact that the border officials don’t routinely enquire each and everyone whether they’ve had criminal convictions. However, one should bear in mind that Canadian officials have access to numerous criminal records in Washington D.C., and of late, Americans having criminal records are encountering difficulties at the Canadian border. Denial of entry into Canada at the border can be quite costly to businesses and trades.

Role of Attorneys in Immigration

Engaging the services of a reputable, licensed and experienced Immigration Attorney from the province you seek to enter is essentially helpful. The attorney’s areas of practice include:

Customs Law

Charter of Rights (Human Rights)

Citizenship and Immigration Law

Complex Personal Injury Claims

If you’ve ever travelled conveniently smoothly back and forth to Canada sometimes back, being denied a pass at the border can catch you completely off guard, which would lead to frustration and embarrassment. It is quite crucial that lawyers comprehensively advise their clients of potential issues and on how they can elevate the chances of being deemed admissible.

Case in point, a lawyer should undertake to advise their client on how to respond in case the border officials enquire on criminal charges. It’s highly advisable that the client (traveler) answers all questions on criminal matters accurately and honestly. It is inarguably probable that a border official has the criminal history with them if they’re asking about it.

Being Truthful is Highly Necessary

Worth noting is that it’d be relatively easier for one to overcome inadmissibility as a result of criminality than misrepresentation. In fact, if one’s denied entry, they’d be better off to voluntarily withdraw their application for admission in order to avoid cases of removal or exclusion orders in future. Overcoming such cases can prove very difficult and challenging.

While one is supposed to provide honest responses regarding criminal matters, they shouldn’t provide any specific details on pending charges. If you admit sufficient information to border officials regarding a pending DUI case in Washington D.C., chances are that you’ll be denied entry even though you’re yet to be convicted.

If you’ve pending DUI charges, having a letter from your lawyer outlining a basic summary of your case’s procedural status would be much helpful. In general, border officials will rarely deny admission to one with a pending DUI. For instance, if you’re on a deferred prosecution such as alcoholism, that doesn’t make you inadmissible.

DUI Entry

Temporary and Permanent Ways of Overcoming Inadmissibility

In this case, there’re 5 possible options namely a temporary residential permit, being deemed rehabilitated, a criminal rehabilitation and expungement of the inadmissible conviction.

1. As such, there’re 2 routes to getting the temporary residential permit. First, you may simply appear at the border and apply for the permit once denied admission due to conviction. Border officials have been granted discretion in granting this application, and that leads to uncertainty when travelling.

2. The advantage with applying at the border is that they’ll generally need less paperwork. This permit is usually for just a single entry. If you wish to obtain multiple entry permits or require assurance ahead of time that you’ll be allowed into Canada, you may head to a Canadian consulate based in Washington D.C. to apply for the temporary resident permit.

3. In case more than 5 years have passed since completing your sentence, you can apply for criminal rehabilitation. Such a process will take almost a year, but will resolve your admissibility to Canada permanently. The paperwork required for temporary resident permit or criminal rehabilitation may be more extensive. In such a situation, acquiring aid from a lawyer who’s experienced and well familiar with Canadian immigration procedures will be extremely beneficial.

4. If more than 10 years have passed since completing your sentence, you can be deemed rehabilitated at the ports of entry. Although this isn’t a formal application process, it’s accessed by immigration officials and doesn’t just happen automatically after 10 years. If you were eligible at 10 years but later obtained another conviction, you’ll now have 2 convictions and thus be admissible.

5. Under certain circumstances, it may be faster and easier to propose vacation and expungement of one’s conviction in Washington D.C. in order to facilitate admission into Canada. Since vacation of a DUI conviction isn’t allowed for, it’d only apply for other criminal charges. Canadian officials usually treat expungement as equivalent to no conviction.

The general rule is that the older your conviction is, the better your chances are of being permitted entry into Canada. There’re no exceptions for guests, fans or even officials entering Canada to attend special events. For instance, the former U.S. President, George W. Bush had to acquire a special waiver so as to enter Canada. This was due to his drunken-driving offense in Maine, 1976.

North-American Free Trade Agreement 

The North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) makes it easier for Americans to make entry into Canada to obtain work permits as NAFTA professionals or intra-company transferees or even as business visitors. However, NAFTA doesn’t make it easier with regard to criminal admissibility.


Typically, having been charged with driving under the influence barely causes problems for Canadians making entry into U.S.A. However, most Americans encounter the biggest surprise by being turned away at the border if they’ve any alcohol-related offense. This is because Canada considers driving when drunk quite a serious offense.

If you’ve a Washington D.C. DUI, getting into Canada isn’t as simple as merely showing up at the border with some valid U.S. passport. Regardless of whether you intend to drive or not, a DUI, the under-21 DUI included, can impede your eligibility to cross the border. It’s highly recommended that one consults a Canadian immigration lawyer, such as the FWCanada team at http://www.duicanadaentry.com/ concerning any criminal offense, however how minor or ancient it is, before trying to make entry into Canada.