LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | Jul 17, 2014

Traveling in the US and abroad after DUI

While many of the consequences of getting a DUI charge are obvious, some are hidden and longer lasting. One of these hidden consequence of a DUI is its ability to restrict your efforts to immigrate and even travel to other countries. If you have been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, most countries consider this a criminal offense that makes you inadmissible to their country.

To understand what your limitations and options are, learn about the United States travel rules, the immigration restrictions of other countries, and time limitations on these restrictions.

How a DUI affects US travel

After being charged with DUI, travel across state borders in the United States is not restricted. There are different laws regarding what amount of alcohol can get you a DUI, but you can travel freely from state to state as long as you have legally dealt with any outstanding DUI charges.

If you have DUI charges in other states and have not dealt with them, the state police cannot come after you, but you will face larger fines. The Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent agency will inform the licensing bureau in any state you relocate to of your past convictions.

It is highly advisable to face whatever charge you have up front and deal with them before embarking on any travel. There are books that detail what the exact laws regarding driving and alcohol are in various states in the United States, and it would be wise to check out one of these books to avoid any further charges.

Immigration restrictions because of a DUI

Travel to other countries varies greatly depending on the country’s immigration and visiting laws, including what they consider to be a criminal offense. For example, countries such as Great Britain do not consider a DUI a criminal offense but a misdemeanor. There are many countries in Europe that do not even question if you have a DUI as long as no one was harmed. Check the immigration website of the country you are interested in visiting to find out if a DUI will be an issue.

However, there is one country that is extremely strict about traveling with DUIs: the United States’ closest neighbor, Canada. Canada considers driving while under the influence to be a criminal offense, and restricts anyone with a DUI or DWI from entering the country.

It is important to be aware that if you are denied access to entering a country, other members of your immediate family may also be denied. It is still possible to visit Canada if you have a DUI, but you have to pay a $200 fine. It is possible to forego the fine by getting a temporary resident permit to visit Canada if you have served no jail time and have committed no other acts that would prevent you from visiting Canada. However, this permit is only issued in extreme circumstances.

Times limitations for DUI travel restrictions

The good news is that Canada will lift this restriction after ten years if you do not repeat the offense and get the charge expunged. While the DUI charge will always be on your driving record, it can be erased from your criminal records after ten years. Once it is gone, you will be able to travel across borders again.

In addition to this, there are other time limitations you need to be aware off. Visit the immigration website of any country you plan to visit to get an idea of how much paper work you will need to complete.

When applying for a travel visa you need to plan ahead. It is recommended that you contact an attorney to help you fill out any paperwork at least two weeks before your trip. This will ensure that your paperwork is processed in time, and that no errors keep you from enjoying your visit.

Dealing with the hidden consequences of a DUI can be a hassle and embarrassing. With a little bit of research and the help of an attorney, you can move past a DUI and continue to travel wherever you want to go.

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