Oh Canada … Oh Canada … Why won’t you let me in??

The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Act (hereinafter referred to as, the “Act”) legislates who is authorized to enter and/or travel into the great white north — Canada. Under the Act, no person who has been deemed to have committed an “Indictable Offense” may enter Canada unless he has been found to have been “Rehabilitated.” Even if a criminal charge is pending (unresolved) in the United States, the Refugee Act treats the accused as if he is “Under Indictment” and thus excludes him from entry into Canada. It is neither the status of the United States crime, nor the seriousness of the United States crime that determines eligibility to enter or travel into Canada; admissibility is determined by what the United States crime equates to under Canadian law.

The Canadian government views DUI’s differently than our United States governmental bodies. For instance, a DUI charge in Washington State is generally a gross misdemeanor. In Canada, however, a DUI is considered a “hybrid” offense, and as such a Washington state DUI is considered either (1) an “Indictable Offense” (Felony), or (2) one that can be prosecuted as a “Summary Conviction Offense” (Misdemeanor); the prosecuting authority gets to elect how to proceed on hybrid crimes. As such, a person with a Washington State DUI can (and most likely will) be excluded from entering and/or traveling into Canada.

Generally, anyone convicted for DUI in the United States is automatically prohibited from entry and/or travel into Canada for a minimum of 10 years, or until otherwise deemed “Rehabilitated”. If a DUI charge is reduced, the final resolution of the case may be helpful for purposes of entering Canada, but even a reduction of a DUI charge does not guarantee smooth processing at the Canadian border. Retaining legal counsel can help in a person’s effort to gain entry into Canada after a criminal conviction. Unfortunately, however, it will probably take the assistance of both a licensed attorney in the United States, and a licensed attorney in Canada.

When retaining a Washington State attorney to represent you in a DUI allegation you should ensure that the attorney being retained has a basic understanding of the issues related to entering into Canada, and how a criminal conviction can curtail Canadian travel plans; many, many people in Washington enjoy the luxury of routinely traveling to and from Canada. If an attorney fails to adequately contemplate the implications of a criminal conviction on his client’s ability to travel to Canada, it can have far reaching and long lasting negative consequences.

Because of the significant consequences one faces when arrested for DUI in Washington State, it is imperative that he retain a qualified Washington State DUI attorney so as to not only best minimize the myriad of legal consequences he faces, but also to protect his rights and liberty interests. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with DUI in and around Western Washington and the greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.

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10.0Gregory Wayne Schwesinger
10.0Saad Qamer Qadri