With the border slightly over 100 miles to the north, it’s no wonder that many Seattle residents head up to Canada for work or for fun. The trip is an easy one, with just about a three-hour drive on Interstate 5 before you reach the point of entry. It’s at this point that some travelers are shocked as they’re detained at the border for a seemingly minor conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). Even when you know your DUI lawyer got the most favorable outcome in your case, that may not be enough for Canadian authorities to let you in the country.
You may have paid your fine or otherwise served your sentence in a drunk driving case, but crossing the border is another matter. Canada treats these situations very differently, so it’s important to know what to expect and how you can handle things in advance. A knowledgeable Seattle DUI lawyer can help you navigate the process and avoid surprises, so please contact Emerald City Law Group to learn more.
General Considerations About Travel to Canada
Canadian laws place restrictions on foreign visitors coming into the country, and certain types of criminal activity could act as a bar to entry. Generally, officials will compare how a crime in the U.S. corresponds with the equivalent in Canada. It doesn’t matter that a DUI is a gross misdemeanor in Washington, because our neighbors to the north don’t distinguish between felonies and misdemeanors. They do have “indictable offenses,” however, and drunk driving is one of them.
A Washington DUI as Grounds for Exclusion
Officials may prevent entry for any person convicted of an indictable office. They can even exclude you if the charges are still pending, because your status is considered under indictment. The implications are long-term, as Canadian immigration authorities may stop you at the border for up to 10 years after your conviction on DUI charges. The only way to get around this unfortunate result is to work through one of two exceptions:
If you have steered clear of any criminal activity since you finished serving your drunk driving sentence, you can get around the 10-year minimum period and qualify to enter Canada through rehabilitation. Still, you can only qualify for this option if at least five years have passed. This option won’t work for more recent DUI convictions.
Temporary Resident Permit
Under this exception, you can enter into Canada despite a recent drunk driving case. You must complete the proper forms, which require you provide a detailed explanation on why you need to be allowed into the country.
How a DUI Lawyer Can Help
Regardless of which exception applies to your case, your chances of success in visiting Canada with a DUI conviction improve if you retain the help of an attorney. Application forms require you to submit all the paperwork regarding the drunk driving case. A lawyer can gather the proper documentation and work with Canadian officials to obtain a letter that allows you to gain entry into the country legally.
Trust Emerald City Law Group to Assist with Washington DUI Charges
For more information on visiting Canada with a DUI, contact Emerald City Law Group to set up a free, initial consultation of your case. We can review your circumstances and create a strategy, so that you won’t be turned away at the border. Our legal team can also assist with Washington drunk driving charges while your case is still pending.View All Blogs