Can I enter Canada with a dismissed DUI?

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Can I enter Canada on business with a DUI?
January 16, 2018
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Generally speaking, a person should be allowed to enter Canada if their DUI charge was dismissed. However, there are a variety of factors that could impact a traveler’s ability to enter Canada even if the charge was cleared off their record by the court. When a person gets arrested for a DUI, the arrest could be followed by a number of possible outcomes, for example:

  • A decision by the District Attorney’s Office not to proceed with charges against a defendant. In certain states, this is otherwise known as “Nolle Prosequi”, or “Nol Prose”.
  • A conviction by the court, regardless of the defendant’s plea of not guilty.
  • A suspended sentence. This is technically not a conviction, and will remain as such provided all conditions of the suspended sentence will have been successfully completed.
  • A dismissal of the DUI charge by the court (the defendant being found not guilty).
  • A dismissal having been requested, and approved, after an initial adjudication of guilt was reached. Under certain circumstances, defendants who have satisfied the conditions of their conviction and have waited the required amount of time can request that their case be dismissed.

When can a dismissed DUI still cause problems at the border?

For individuals whose case resulted in a dismissal, either right off the bat or after a request for a dismissal, the initial DUI charge should no longer be considered as grounds for inadmissibility, and the person should be allowed to enter Canada. The same would apply to those whose case was not prosecuted by the court.

However, the following should also be taken into consideration when determining whether you can freely enter Canada despite having been arrested for a DUI:

  1. Even if a person has a dismissed DUI on record, if there is another DUI that is not dismissed, and for which ten years have not yet passed since the completion of all conditions, entry into Canada will not be allowed as this person is not admissible to enter Canada because of his other DUI conviction on record.
  2. If a person has a dismissed DUI on record, and another separate DUI conviction for which all conditions were successfully completed over ten years ago, entry into Canada could be allowed. However, consulting with an immigration lawyer would be preferable to confirm if this is the case.
  3. If a person has a dismissed DUI and a separate, non-dismissed, offense on record, careful consideration should be given to that offense in order to determine whether it would trigger inadmissibility. Not all offenses will prevent entry to Canada. In fact, what matters is not the offense itself, but what its equivalent would be in Canada, and the applicable punishment. It is best to consult with an immigration lawyer in order to determine if travel to Canada is still possible, or if something must be done to address the issue.
  4. If the initial DUI charge was dismissed as a result of a plea agreement for a conviction on a lesser charge, such as reckless driving, inadmissibility can still apply and prevent entry into Canada, as reckless driving is another offense that can prevent people from entering Canada.

If a person had a DUI that has been dismissed, and has absolutely nothing else on record, entry into Canada should be allowed. However, the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the person requesting entry into Canada to demonstrate the following:

  • The DUI offense has effectively been dismissed; and
  • The person has no other offenses on record, whether they are offenses that have resulted in a conviction or offenses for which there has only been an arrest and the matter would still be pending in court.

Disclaimer: Please note that the above scenarios are hypothetical only and do not constitute legal advice. As each case is unique, should you have any specific questions pertaining to your situation, we invite to consult with one of our lawyers as part of a free consultation.

To find out if you are eligible to enter Canada with a DUI, please call our team of Lawyers on 1-844-326-8410 for a Free Consultation. We handle first and foremost inadmissibility issues.