Some people who have been charged with DWI – particularly if it’s their first one – wonder if it’s worthwhile to fight it. It’s important to remember that this is a criminal charge that has consequences like jail time and fines. It will be on your record for anyone running a background check to see. It will also make getting car insurance more difficult – and much more expensive.
There’s another consequence that you need to know about if you travel up to Canada for business, to visit family or for vacation. Canada considers drunk driving the equivalent of what would be a felony offense in the U.S. Canadian law prohibits foreigners from entering the country if they’ve been serving a sentence for a drunk driving offense in the past five years.
Applying for rehabilitation
Even after five years (that’s five years after all of your sentence has been completed, including any probation period that was imposed), you can’t just hop a plane to Toronto. Assuming you haven’t accumulated any other criminal convictions, you’re required to apply for “rehabilitation” if you want to enter the country. There’s a fee for that and a lengthy and detailed application process. Since it involves another country’s government, this can take some time.
This is necessary no matter how you plan to enter the county. Don’t assume that an overworked border guard at a checkpoint won’t ask any questions if you try to cross by vehicle. This could get you into even more trouble.
Other countries have restrictions as well
Canada is just one country that you will have a difficult time traveling to after a DWI conviction. Countries that consider drunk driving a serious offense include Mexico and some Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
Limitations on foreign travel are just one reason why it’s wise to look into your options for fighting a DWI or related charge with an experienced legal professional.