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San Diego DUIs and going to Canada

by | Jun 12, 2020 | Firm News |

San Diego has a lot of people who travel for work.  This includes Canada.  When someone is arrested for a San Diego DUI it has far-reaching unintended consequences. This includes potentially not being allowed in Canada.  Here is some information on Canada and DUIs.

Bill C-46 & Its Significant Impact on Canadian Admissibility
Bill C-46 amends the Canadian Criminal Code to create harsher consequences for impaired driving as well as new offenses for driving after consuming drugs, particularly marijuana. Approved on June 21, 2018, and in effect December 2018, the Bill also grants police greater powers to test drivers for impairment and increases the maximum penalty for a DUI from 5 to 10 years. Impaired driving will soon be considered “serious criminality”, raising the difficulty of overcoming inadmissibility to Canada. As a result, foreign nationals and temporary residents who could previously visit Canada may now be denied entry, and permanent residents may face deportation. To boost chances of entry to Canada, it will be increasingly valuable to avoid offenses resulting in inadmissibility, especially by pleading down a DUI to a lesser offense.

Current situation

When determining inadmissibility, Canadian law categorizes offenses as either “criminality” or “serious criminality”. Serious criminality constitutes an offense in Canada with a maximum punishment of at least 10 years or an equivalent offense abroad. If convicted in Canada, an offender serving 6 or more months in prison also falls under the serious criminality category.
At the moment, impaired or dangerous driving is considered general “criminality”, with a maximum penalty of 5 years. Individuals with a conviction can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation 5 years after completing their sentence, or those with a single DUI can be deemed rehabilitated after 10 years. Rehabilitation effectively resolves issues of inadmissibility to Canada.

What will change

The legislation adds new offenses to the Criminal Code by criminalizing driving with a certain quantity of THC (the main psychoactive component of cannabis) in the bloodstream. Since marijuana will soon become legal across Canada with Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, there is now a clear need to regulate marijuana consumption.
Bill C-46 also enacts harsher punishments for existing offenses, increasing the maximum penalty from 5 to 10 years for impaired, prohibited, and dangerous driving, as well as for fleeing from police, leaving after an accident, and refusing to take a breathalyzer. These offenses will escalate to the “serious criminality” category.
For the first time ever in Canada, police will be able to conduct random roadside breath testing for alcohol impairment. Police may also use new screening tools to test drivers’ saliva or blood for drugs in their system, however, drug tests may only be conducted under reasonable suspicion of drug use.

Implications for travel to Canada

Following Bill C-46 taking effect in December, not only will the tougher penalties affect consequent domestic and international convictions, but also temporary and permanent residents with prior convictions. To obtain a Temporary Resident Permit to enter Canada, foreign nationals must present a significant reason for traveling. Now classified as serious criminality, DUIs will present a larger roadblock to entry as they will likely require a much more significant reason for travel. Moreover, foreign nationals and temporary residents with a single DUI conviction will lose eligibility to be deemed rehabilitated after 10 years. They may still apply for Criminal Rehabilitation 5 years after completing their sentence but will face higher scrutiny of their application due to the serious criminality status of their offense. For those with a conviction over 10 years ago who are currently deemed rehabilitated, it is unclear whether they will lose this status and if their admissibility will be affected.
What can you do?
Prior to Conviction

Pleading a Lesser Offense

  • To increase chances of admissibility, attempt to plead down the offense to avoid “serious criminality” classification (avoid offenses involving impairment, recklessness or bodily injury)
  • Best case: plead down to an offense that avoids “criminality” category altogether

Legal Opinion Letter

  • At FWCanada, we can provide a letter of our legal opinion on your client’s admissibility to present to a judge or DA, to help plead down charges or support an ADR program
  • If inadmissibility is removed, we can provide a second letter to explain the change in status to an immigration official at port-of-entry

After a Conviction
Temporary Resident Permit
Temporarily grants entry to Canada

  • At the discretion of Canadian Immigration who decides whether granting admission is worthwhile to Canada
  • The application can be completed at a Canadian visa office or at the port-of-entry, however, it is best to prepare a well-documented application and apply as early as possible prior to the required date of entry

Criminal Rehabilitation
Permanently clears record according to the Canadian government and removes inadmissibility

  • Eligible to apply 5 years after completing a sentence for the conviction, this includes satisfying all conditions of the sentence such as fines and probation


  • Process in the United States whereby criminal records are sealed (expunged) or dismissed, removing the offense from an individual’s record
  • Offered in some states; contact a local attorney for eligibility conditions

This is a look at some changes.  If you want assistance in traveling to Canada speak to an attorney who assists with helping people with entry to Canada.  For San Diego county residents, this blog is for them to know you need to get the best possible outcome.

Hire a Proactive, affordable, and quality defense when you are facing San Diego DUI charges. Whether you have been charged with a San Diego DUI, Poway DUI, La Mesa DUI, Santee DUI, Mission Valley DUI, Clairemont DUI, Point Loma DUI, La Jolla DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Mira Mesa DUI, Pacific Beach DUI, Del Mar DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Encinitas DUI, Oceanside DUI, Escondido DUI, Vista DUI, San Marcos DUI, Carlsbad DUI, El Cajon DUI it is vital you need to hire an attorney who knows how to defend your rights and can determine if the government can prove their case. Contact the Law Office of Mark Deniz now for a free case evaluation at 858-751-4384.

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