After the 2018 legalization of marijuana in Canada, the Canadian government also toughened up on its laws regarding driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This legislation took effect on December 18, 2018 – and has a major effect on visitors to Canada from Maryland and the rest of the United States.
Before this year, non-Canadians who had ever been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) were denied entry due to being criminally inadmissible – regardless of whether the DUI was a misdemeanor or a felony. This is because although the United States differentiates the severity of certain criminal offenses, in the context of impaired driving, Canadian law doesn’t.
However, persons with a DUI could wait 10 years, without any additional offenses, and be considered rehabilitated. “Rehabilitated” means they were now able to enter Canada without having to complete additional paperwork, waivers, or fees.
Under the new and current law, however, the consequences of driving under the influence are even harsher, whether it’s your first or your third DUI.
After the 10-year period has ended – even if a person has committed no offenses in the meantime – individuals will no longer be considered rehabilitated. Those who have already completed their 10-year timeframe and been deemed rehabilitated are grandfathered in and can continue to travel back and forth to Canada. However, people who are not yet rehabilitated are no longer eligible for rehabilitation after their 10 years has ended.
Remember – even if you don’t plan to drive in Canada, if you’re deemed inadmissible, you’ll still be denied entry. And, if you have been charged with a DUI but not yet convicted, you will be denied entry until your charge is dismissed.
What can you do?
There are still a few options for you if you have a DUI offense, although the new law does make them more difficult. Some people may be able to apply for rehabilitation as soon as five years after they complete their sentence. Another option is to apply for a temporary residence permit (TRP). However, with this recent change in the law, it’s likely that the Canadian government will heavily scrutinize applications for TRPs.
If you’ve been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and plan on traveling to Canada, it’s crucial you speak to an attorney beforehand so you’re aware of all your options.
The attorneys at the Carey Law Office have a deep understanding of the law and fight hard for our clients. We have offices in Bowie and Crofton, and are proud to serve clients who reside in Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and the neighboring areas. Please call 301-464-2500 or fill out the contact form to arrange a free consultation.