A DWAI is a common abbreviation for the offense of Driving While Ability Impaired. While comparable to a Driving Under the Influence offense (DUI), in some states, such as in the state of New York (NY), an arrest for an alcohol-related driving offense can sometimes result in a conviction for a lesser charge, known as DWAI. This is usually reduced from what was initially a charge for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and the consequences of such a conviction are usually less severe than those pertaining to a DWI in the state of New York. Similarly, in the state of Colorado (CO), an alcohol-related offense can result in either a DUI charge or a DWAI charge, depending on the severity of the situation. The main difference between a DWAI and a DUI charge is that usually, a Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) will be deemed less severe than a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense.
In the state of New York (NY) and according to the relevant New York statute, a conviction for a DWAI is considered a traffic infraction, leading some to believe that the impact on inadmissibility for entry into Canada is minimized. Consequently, this begs the following question: “Can I go to Canada with a DWAI?” Though the state of New York views a DWAI as a traffic infraction only, the fact remains that this is a conviction for an alcohol-related driving offense. The corresponding Canadian equivalent for a similar offense will not be reduced despite it being a traffic infraction in New York State. It will instead be seen the same as any other similar offense, such as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating a vehicle impaired (OVI), or operating while intoxicated (OWI) to name but a few.
In the state of Colorado (CO), and according the applicable Colorado statute, a DWAI is considered a misdemeanor, albeit being classified as a less severe offense than a DUI. Therefore, the Canadian legislative equivalent is one which will render you inadmissible to go to Canada with a DWAI on your record in Colorado.
Anyone with a DWAI on their record will be faced with the same inadmissibility issue when wishing to enter Canada as someone arrested or convicted of a DUI, DWI, OVI or an OWI. If the conviction is recent, applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) would be the best possible option in order to be authorized to enter Canada. If all conditions pertaining to the DWAI conviction have been completed over five years ago, applying for Criminal Rehabilitation (CR), would be a more permanent solution.
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