Can I Enter Canada with a Dismissed DUI Charge?

Canadian Immigration Entry Graphic

A past DUI charge, even if dismissed, can lead to you being denied entry into Canada. This article will discuss DUIs and dismissed charges, how they can impact your entry process, the most common scenarios you may encounter, and what you can do to obtain legal permission to enter and stay in the country. In short – yes, entering Canada with a dismissed charge is possible. Keep reading to learn how.

What is a DUI?

Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense known as DUI (Driving Under the Influence). Along with many other countries, the United States considers it illegal and punishable by law.

Canada takes DUI offenses seriously and has specific rules for individuals with DUI convictions who want to enter the country. Generally, having a DUI conviction will make an individual inadmissible to Canada. In other words, DUIs can result in an individual being denied entry to Canada or necessitate additional procedures to gain admission.

What is a Dismissed Charge?

In the legal context, a dismissed charge occurs when a court or prosecutor decides to drop or dismiss a criminal charge against an individual. When a court or prosecutor dismisses a charge, it signifies that they have concluded the case without convicting or imposing further legal consequences on the accused person.

A dismissed charge does not automatically erase the arrest record or the fact that the charge was filed. Nevertheless, the dismissal indicates that the accused has not been found guilty of the alleged crime. The individual may also have certain rights to request the expungement or sealing of records related to the dismissed charge. The availability of these rights may vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances.

What Is the Difference Between Acquittals and Non-Convictions?

When dealing with DUI charges, it is essential to differentiate between acquittals and non-convictions. This is due to their potential impact on an individual’s eligibility to enter Canada.

  • Acquittals refer to cases where individuals are taken to court for a crime, but the court, based on the evidence presented, determines them to be not guilty.
  • Non-convictions, on the other hand, encompass situations where accusations are dropped, withdrawn, or dismissed for reasons unrelated to a finding of innocence.

In both scenarios, individuals should seek legal advice early in the proceedings to safeguard their rights and minimize any potential long-term consequences from the allegations.

Can I Enter Canada if I Was Charged with a DUI but never Convicted?

Although non-convictions are often seen as more favorable than convictions, Canadian immigration officers have the discretion to evaluate the factual aspects of the case and make admissibility decisions accordingly. This assessment may include factors such as the individual’s overall behavior and character, blood alcohol level at the time of the incident, presence of property damage or injuries, and any prior history of similar offenses. Consequently, even if someone was not convicted of a DUI charge, their application to enter Canada may still be declined based on the incident’s specific circumstances.

Does the Chance of Entering Canada Change if a Charge is Dismissed?

Determining the impact of dismissed charges on a person’s admissibility to Canada is an intricate matter. While dismissed charges may still be considered, they can require additional documentation or closer examination at the border. A dismissed charge could lead to a person being deemed inadmissible to Canada, particularly if it suggests a pattern of behavior that poses a risk to Canadian society. However, it’s important to note that a dismissed charge does not automatically result in a denial of entry. In certain instances, individuals may be requested to provide supplementary documentation or undergo an in-person interview at the border.

Is Entering Canada with a Dismissed Charge Possible?

Although having a case dismissed might appear to resolve your inadmissibility status, it does not guarantee automatic entry into Canada. The Canadian immigration authorities carefully assess the criminal histories of all applicants during the screening process. Consequently, even charges that have been dropped can lead to a determination of inadmissibility. This is because the individual may be viewed as involved in criminal behavior. Therefore, if you have had a charge dismissed and intend to enter Canada, it is crucial to be prepared.

It is best to contact a law firm, such as Dogen Law, to help you overcome potential inadmissibility. Successfully securing a Temporary Resident Permit or meeting the requirements for Criminal Rehabilitation will allow you to enter Canada even with a dismissed charge.

Why Can a Dismissed DUI Still Be an Issue at the Border?

Scenario One

Suppose you have a dismissed DUI and a non-dismissed DUI on your record. In that case, Canada may still rule you criminally inadmissible due to the non-dismissed DUI.

Scenario Two

Suppose you have a dismissed DUI, but there is a separate non-dismissed charge on your record. In that case, depending on the severity of the non-dismissed charge, you may still be denied entry. You can read more about crimes that make you inadmissible to Canada here.

Scenario Three

Suppose your initial DUI charge changes to another charge, such as reckless driving. In these cases, being initially charged with a DUI may deem you inadmissible to Canada even though the charge has changed. Moreover, the new charge, reckless driving, for example, may render you inadmissible because it’s considered a serious crime.

Scenario Four

Suppose you have a DUI charge on your record that has been dropped. In that case, you may be eligible to enter Canada if you have no other criminal convictions. In such cases, you must present compelling evidence proving your offense’s effective dismissal and the absence of any additional offenses on your record. Strong evidence supporting your claim will significantly influence the final decision. Gather robust documentation to support your case to improve your chances of a favorable outcome.

Can I enter Canada if my DUI charge is not dismissed?

The Canadian government takes a strong stance against criminal activity and prioritizes the safety of its citizens. A DUI charge that is not dropped and leads to conviction will seriously impact your ability to enter Canada. Convictions can lead to long-term or permanent inadmissibility. At the same time, pending charges can result in temporary inadmissibility until a decision is made. In such cases, you may consider applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation, depending on the requirements of your case.

TRPs give an individual permission to enter Canada temporarily. To be granted a TRP, you must demonstrate that you have undergone rehabilitation and are unlikely to commit another offense.

Alternatively, you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation to overcome your inadmissibility. To be eligible, you must have completed your sentence at least five years ago and have had no new offenses since then. You must also provide validated legal documentation proving you have fulfilled your sentence’s conditions. These documents must be issued and validated by the authorities in your country of origin to ensure their legitimacy. Canadian border authorities will thoroughly review the submitted documentation, so it is essential to be transparent and truthful throughout the process.

How Dogen Law Can Help

If you need assistance to streamline your application process and overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada, Dogen Law is here to help. We specialize in guiding clients through legal pathways and finding solutions to ensure a smooth journey to Canada. Get your free assessment today to discuss your needs and start the process.

Further Reading

Gain deeper insights into criminal rehabilitation, temporary resident permits, and overcoming criminal inadmissibility to Canada by reading our articles below:

Assault Charges

Border Checks, Criminal Inadmissibility, and Expunged Records

Criminal Rehabilitation & Temporary Resident Permits

DUI Resources

Felony Resources