In Canada ,a DUI is considered a type of offense where it can be prosecuted as an Indictable Offense (Felony), or it could be prosecuted as a Summary Conviction Offense (Misdemeanor). Specifically, the crime of DUI in Canada is called a "Hybrid" offense. This is because the Crown (Prosecuting Attorney) may actually elect the manner of criminal proceedings for Hybrid crimes. Usually, it is the facts of the specific case that determines which path the charges will follow.
Under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Act, the legislation that determines and restricts non-citizens (Foreign Nationals) entry and travel into Canada, the law states that no person who has been convicted of an Indictable Offense may enter unless they are deemed rehabilitated. Additionally, even if the charge is just a pending charge where there has been no resolution of the case, the Refugee Act treats the person as if they are "Under Indictment" and excludes them. It is neither the status of the crime in the USA, nor the seriousness of the crime in the USA that determines entry eligibility, but rather it is what the crime in the USA EQUATES to under Canadian Law.
What Sort Of Crimes?
If the crime in the USA, or even the simple traffic infraction in the USA, is on the criminal books in Canada as something very similar, it is the status of the crime in Canada that determines a person's eligibility. If the crime is a Indictable offense, or CAN BE PROSECUTED AS AN INDICTABLE OFFENSE then a person is excludable for a set period of time. DUI is a Hybrid and thus can be prosecuted as a Indictable offense and therefore treated as if it were a Indictable. As a result, anyone convicted of DUI is automatically barred from entry into Canada for a minimum of 10 years, or until otherwise "deemed rehabilitated."
What If It Was Reduced From A DUI?
If a DUI charge is reduced then the final outcome is very important for purposes of entering Canada, but even that does not guarantee a smooth processing at the Border. In fact, many people are still turned away because the border guards have incorrect information in their system.
How Does Canada Do This?
The process of excluding visitors is simple enough while paving the way for a smooth entry is very complicated. When traveling to Canada and reporting to Canada Customs it is important to keep in mind that they are the officials in charge and there decision stands. Entry into Canada and other foreign countries is a privilege and not a right. Due to the longstanding friendly border relations between Canada and the USA many US travelers have forgotten this. Also keep in mind that if a person is told to not return until you are legally able to and that directive is ignored and another port of entry is tried to gain entry into Canada, denial is virtually certain and Criminal Immigration charges are also going to follow.
Can I Ever "Take Off" To The Great White North?
In order to be able to lift the ban on entry into Canada as a result of a DUI or other conviction you need the help of two attorneys. The first is preferably the attorney who handled the matter in the US as they will likely have the records of your case. Important items are Judgment and Sentence, documents relating to suppression of evidence, if any, and a copy of the Statement of Defendant on Plea of Guilty (if applicable) or a copy of the Jury or Judge's verdict if the case was tried before one. Once you have those documents they need to be turned over to an attorney who is licensed to practice law in either Canada or the Provincial Bar for the province where you are seeking entry. Once these documents are in the hands of such legal experts you have a much better chance of gaining entry and clearing your name for immigration purposes.
Can I Avoid Exclusion If I am Only Charged And Not Yet Convicted Of Anything?
Having a working knowledge of the Canadian Criminal Code and the types of crimes that equate to criminal inadmissibility is extremely important when facing a US DUI charge because an attorney with this knowledge can help structure a result that will not render a person inadmissible to Canada as well as ensuring you get the best possible representation in court. I have that knowledge.