Following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, the Canadian government is cracking down on driving violations that occur while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. New legislation is scheduled to take effect on December 18, 2018 and will have a major impact on visitors to Canada.
Under current law, non-Canadians who have ever been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence may be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada and denied entry. This is regardless of whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony. While United States law differentiates the severity of certain offenses in determining criminality, Canadian law does not in this context. The consequences of the current law are harsh; however, after 10 years without any additional offenses, individuals are deemed rehabilitated. This means they are able to enter Canada with no additional paperwork, fees or waivers.
After December 18th, the consequences of driving while under the influence will be even more severe. Individuals will no longer be considered rehabilitated, even after a 10-year period with no new offenses. According to Correctional Service Canada, anyone who has already been deemed rehabilitated prior to the new legislation taking effect will not be affected and can continue to enter Canada. On the other hand, anyone who is not yet determined to be rehabilitated will no longer be eligible for automatic rehabilitation after a 10-year period.
Important to note, individuals deemed inadmissible will be denied entry to Canada regardless of whether or not they plan to drive in Canada.
Luckily, there are still some options for individuals with driving under the influence offenses, although these options are more difficult than previous laws designated. Individuals can apply for rehabilitation as soon as five years after the completion of a sentence. An alternative option is an application for a temporary residence permit (TRP). Given the increased severity of these crimes in Canada, these applications will be looked at with increased scrutiny by the Canadian government.
If you have ever been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence and plan on traveling to Canada, it is important to fully understand your options. Contact Berardi Immigration Law to schedule a consult to speak with an attorney today!