DUI & Travel Out of the Country
Many people who have been charged with or convicted of a DUI offense are anxious to know what effects the conviction will have on their ability to travel outside of the United States and whether or not they can legally leave the country while on probation.
California Penal Code Section 977Most people convicted of a misdemeanor level DUI in California would be able to leave the country without issue, despite the fact that they are on probation. People on summary probation are not confined to the county or state in which they were convicted, and would generally be able to leave the jurisdiction without notifying the court or any probation officer. In California, someone who is facing a misdemeanor charge can even have an attorney appear in court on their behalf for most hearings. Under California Penal Code Section 977, a defendant has a statutory right to have an attorney appear in court on his or her behalf. An exception to this would be a sentencing on a DUI, for which a judge may require a defendant to personally appear.
Probation Officer Approval to Leave CountryIf a defendant has been convicted of a felony level DUI, he or she may be placed on felony probation and may have to have their probation officer approve any trips out of state or out of the country. Typically, a defendant will be charged with a felony level DUI offense where he or she had three or more prior DUI convictions within the previous ten years or where the DUI incident resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person.
Importance of Attending Mandatory Alcohol ClassesEven where a defendant may be able to leave the country without incident, they should be mindful of the terms of their probation. All DUI sentences require mandatory attendance of a drug or alcohol class. The length of the class may vary, however most classes require weekly attendance. Missing too many sessions can result in the defendant being terminated from the class and the court being alerted of this termination, which can subsequently trigger a probation violation and bench warrant. If a person is outside of the country and is terminated from his or her alcohol education program, a bench warrant can be issued while that person is away. Upon reentering the country at the airport, the person may be arrested and taken directly into custody if the active bench warrant is discovered. As a result, anyone planning a lengthy trip abroad while on DUI probation should take measures to avoid the risk of violating probation.
Turned Away for Misdemeanor DUIWhile it is possible to leave the United States while on probation for a misdemeanor DUI offense, it is important to be aware that some countries will deny admission to those who have DUI convictions on their record. Canada is one country that will often turn away visitors from the United States who have previously been convicted of a DUI. Anyone planning a trip outside of the country should consult with an attorney and determine whether or not they will need to make special arrangements in order to gain entry into the foreign country they plan on visiting.