Everything You Need to Know About a DUI Arrest in Canada

By  Milorad Radak

May 17th, 2023



DUI refers to any offence related to driving under the influence, be it from alcohol, drugs or anything that impairs judgment and dexterity.

If you have been charged with DUI in the U.S., this can make entering Canada difficult even if your conviction was expunged or sealed. There may be ways around this however; including applying for Criminal Rehabilitation and getting a Temporary Resident Permit.

DUI arrest in details can be complicated and there are many potential consequences for those who are convicted. It is important to understand your rights and the consequences of a DUI charge in order to make informed decisions about your case.

What is a DUI Arrest?

The RCMP can pull you over and ask you to step out of the car and ask you to walk a straight line. If they are not satisfied they can issue you a ticket or call a tow truck and put your car in a car pound.

DUI (driving under the influence) arrest is an offense in Canada and conviction will result in criminal records, fines and jail time – in some cases even your driver’s license could be suspended or even cancelled.

Criminal convictions can make entering Canada challenging, even if you have since made amends and committed no further offenses. Canada takes DUIs or driving under the influence offences seriously and often deny entry to foreign nationals who have had such convictions in their past.

At Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), any conviction of DUI, DWI, OWI, or DWAI on your record – regardless of when it occurred – can prevent entry to Canada despite being admissible. An experienced admissibility lawyer can help those individuals obtain either a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation to gain entry.

What Happens During a DUI Arrest?

DUI (driving under the influence) in Canada is an extremely serious crime that may lead to jail time or other severe penalties, including fatalities and injuries every year from impaired drivers. Border agents recognize this problem and often inquire if US citizens have been arrested or convicted for drunk driving in the past year or so. When answering such inquiries honestly is key – being dishonest will only aggravate matters further.

DUIs and similar charges can take various forms, including DWI, OUI, OWI or DWAI charges in Canada. No matter their name or classification, DUI is often an offence which renders an American inadmissible due to criminal considerations.

Police in Canada are very strict about DUI driving. Scenes like this are very frequent, especially during holiday weekends.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP can detect DUI arrests and convictions from American records, even if the arrest or conviction took place years ago. They can look back as far as 40 years to see what crimes have been committed.

What Are the Penalties for a DUI Arrest?

DUI penalties in Canada can be severe; indeed, they often make entry difficult if there’s been an arrest for this offence. Border officials have complete discretion in their decision about granting entry based on how old the conviction is and can make their decision depending on how old it is.

As long as your DUI offence occurred more than 10 years ago, it is possible to enter the country with one. You will need either to secure a Temporary Resident Permit or be found Criminally Rehabilitated before entering. Since this can be a lengthy process, having a professional lawyer guide you is highly recommended.

Failure to do the breathalizer test will mean immediate arrest and the impounding of you vehicle.

Canadian courts will impose both fines and jail sentences upon repeat offenders who cause no injuries; even first time offenders who cause no physical damage could face imprisonment if circumstances escalated further. You could lose your driving privileges and may need to install an interlock device after conviction.

What Can I Do After a DUI Arrest?

Many Americans may be shocked to learn that even minor DUI offences such as traffic tickets can prevent entry to Canada despite having been misdemeanours, since Canadian laws define DUI as “dangerous operation”, not simply alcohol or drug intoxication. This means someone could be stopped at the border even if they do not intend to drive; similarly civil DUI infractions like DWAI or OWI may prevent entry as well.

Criminal Rehabilitation can also prevent admittance into Canada. Although there are ways around this restriction, such as applying for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation permit, both are time consuming processes which require advance planning in order to be successful. It is advisable that legal representation handle these processes from start to finish to meet all their stringent requirements successfully.


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