CAN A DUI PREVENT A PERSON FROM ENTERING A FOREIGN COUNTRY?

Dec 30, 2014 @ 04:50 PM — by Myles L. Berman

Imagine, if you will, booking a flight to Canada to go skiing with family and friends. You make all of the proper arrangements – you have your rental car and hotel booked.  While filling out Canadian documents required to be completed for entry into Canada you notice there is a question regarding whether you have any criminal convictions.  “Does this question apply to the misdemeanor DUI conviction that you suffered 6 years ago?” you ask yourself.  You answer the question “no” under the mistaken assumption that a misdemeanor DUI conviction isn’t serious enough to disclose.  You land in Canada and are ready to meet up with family and friends.  However, Canadian authorities refuse to allow you to enter the country. Instead, they require you to immediately return to the United States ruining all plans for a fun filled vacation.

The above scenario may seem to be farfetched, but is actually a reality to many people.  This is because Canada does not allow foreigners with a felony to enter their country.  Even though the DUI in the above example was a misdemeanor Canada treats all DUIs as felonies and does not focus on the fact that the US treats some DUIs as misdemeanors. 

Could a US citizen decide not to disclose a DUI conviction in order to gain entry into Canada? Not in the slightest.  The US and Canada share computer databases regarding criminal convictions of individuals residing in the respective country.  In addition to sharing criminal databases, the two countries also share biometric information about travelers as well. Enhanced passport technology provides access to such information. Accordingly, completing travel documents with honesty and truthfulness is a must! Failure to disclose a material fact could result in charges of unlawful entry as a person gained entry due to providing a false statement.

You may have noticed that the focus on today’s blog entry is Canada. Presently, Canada has been the primary country that has made it difficult for US citizens with DUI convictions to enter.  The shared criminal database helps execute these immigration policies.  In the future, however, this may make future travel to the EU difficult with a DUI conviction. Currently EU countries share criminal databases with each other.  Due to global terrorism concerns, this shared information may extend to include the US.  If it does, then there may be a future restraint on international travel for US citizens.

In closing, consequences stemming from a misdemeanor DUI conviction are always expanding, not contracting.  What may not be an issue today could possibly cause problems in the future.  Accordingly, when dealing with a DUI arrest it is imperative that the focus is not only on present consequences but potential future ones as well.  

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