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If You Get a DUI in Canada, Can you Still Drive in Another Country?

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Greater Toronto Area clients who consult with the criminal defence DUI lawyers of Mass Tsang about their impaired driving charges usually have many questions. As DUI experts, we can successfully answer most of them and like to share our answers to some of the more interesting questions here on this blog. For example, in the past year, we addressed whether you can get a DUI for sleeping drunk in your car and how a DUI can impact your employment.

A question we often hear is whether someone can drive in another province after getting an Ontario DUI driver’s license suspension. The apparent thinking behind this question arises because licenses are provincially administered, what’s to prevent a driver from getting a license in another province? The simple answer, though, is that DUI is a federal crime, making the resultant driving prohibition effective across the country.

A client recently asked a similar question that gave us pause because there may not be a simple answer. That is, if you get a DUI in Canada can you drive in another country?

While our initial impulse would be to respond with, “no, you cannot drive in another country if your license is suspended due to a Canadian DUI,” there are 195 countries in the world, each with its own unique driving regulations. And it turns out that more than a dozen of these countries do not have any DUI-related laws. Conversely, we also know that some countries bar entry to those who’ve had a DUI, which means that you might not be able to enter the country in the first place, let alone drive.

The bottom line is that we don’t have a simple answer to this question, but we can provide insights that might help answer the question and guide how a Canadian DUI might impact you in other countries. We also recommend that anyone who has been convicted of DUI check the relevant entry laws of any country you plan to visit, as well as their respective driving regulations if you hope to drive there.

Countries with no Impaired Driving Laws

A country with no impaired driving laws on its books probably has no legal restrictions preventing a Canadian with a DUI from driving in their country. Of course, such countries may have legal bans on driving with a suspended license, making the DUI consideration moot. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, the following countries do not have legal blood alcohol concentration limits for drivers:

  • Antigua
  • Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Burundi
  • Comoros
  • Gambia
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Liberia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Niger
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Sudan
  • Togo

You can probably add Kenya to this list because a high court recently ruled that drunk driving is not an offence if the driver has control of the vehicle. Based on this ruling, legislators are reportedly expected to strike drunk driving offences from the country’s legal code. As previously recommended, you should review the driving regulations of any country you plan to visit if you hope to drive. Some of the above-listed countries may have recently enacted DUI-related laws, and governments worldwide are making their DUI laws stricter.

Countries Where Entry Might Be Your First Problem

Having a DUI-related license suspension is undoubtedly going to make it difficult to drive in most of the world’s countries. However, some countries might not even let you enter if you’ve been convicted of DUI. And if you cannot enter a country, you will certainly not be driving in it. Let’s take a closer look at countries that restrict entry to visitors with DUI convictions.

Mexico

DUI is an indictable offence in Mexico, and the country bars entry to any foreigners who have been convicted of indictable or felony crimes. Immigration guidelines reportedly allow entry for those with impaired driving convictions of 10 or more years old.

Japan

This country conducts extensive background checks on those applying to visit, and failing to disclose a DUI will result in a visa denial. To ensure a smooth entry into Japan, those with a DUI should get a certificate of eligibility from the Japanese consulate and then apply for a waiver from the country’s ministry of justice. Know that if your DUI resulted in imprisonment of more than one year, the ministry of justice will probably not grant the waiver.

Malaysia

Like Japan, this country conducts extensive background checks on visa applications. Failure to disclose any convictions, including DUI, will result in denied entry. A DUI will not automatically prevent your entry, but lying about it will. To ensure a smooth visit, contacting the consulate before your visit would be best.

Australia and New Zealand

While a DUI itself might not prevent you from entering Australia and New Zealand, a conviction that resulted in imprisonment of one year or more can result in denied entry. New Zealand denies entry permits and visas for anyone convicted and imprisoned for five years or more and those imprisoned for 12 months or more within the past 10 months. Australia’s official policy is to refuse entry to anyone with a criminal conviction that results in a prison sentence of one year or more. Both countries can bar entry to those who fail to disclose their DUIs.

Canada

While the above countries’ restrictions on allowing entry to those with DUI convictions may seem harsh, know that Canada is considered one of the most restrictive countries in the world for barring entry based on DUI.

Best Option: Secure a Solid DUI Defence with Mass Tsang

Instead of worrying about whether your Canadian DUI will prevent you from driving in (or even entering) other countries, don’t drive while impaired. If you are arrested for DUI, secure the best criminal defence possible to avoid a conviction or otherwise mitigate the charges. In the Greater Toronto Area, your Mass Tsang DUI defence lawyer can strategize a solid defence designed to secure withdrawn charges, dismissals, acquittals, and other favourable outcomes. To learn more, Contact Mass Tsang Today.



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