How a DWI Conviction in New Jersey Could Affect Your International Travel Plans

Athabasca Glacier, CanadaA conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) can have an impact far beyond any penalties imposed by a court. New Jersey’s DWI statute prescribes penalties that can include fines, a license suspension, the use of an ignition interlock device, and jail time. Laws at both the state and federal levels may impose restrictions, such as ineligibility for certain licenses or permits. A New Jersey DWI conviction may also affect a person’s ability to travel abroad. Canada, to name just one example, may bar someone from entering that country if they have one or more DWI convictions. This is a lesser-known consequence, but it could be an important factor to consider during the DWI prosecution process.

Each country’s immigration laws define who may enter the country and under which circumstances. People who want to visit a particular country must obtain that country’s permission. They may be able to do this by obtaining an entry document known as a visa. The United States issues visas to people intending to remain here permanently and to people who are coming here on a temporary basis. Nationals of some countries may come to the U.S. temporarily without a visa under the State Department’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided they meet all the other requirements for admission.

U.S. immigration law states that certain people are inadmissible to the U.S., even as temporary visitors. These include people who admit to the use of illegal drugs, whether or not they have a drug-related criminal conviction. Canadian citizens, who do not need a visa under the VWP, may still find themselves denied entry to the U.S. if they admit to having ever used marijuana or other drugs. A DWI conviction may also be grounds for inadmissibility to the U.S., or grounds for revocation of a visa once someone is already here. Other countries’ bans on people with DWI convictions are not that different from our own laws.

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who wish to travel to Canada do not need a visa, thanks to the VWP. They must not, however, be “criminally inadmissible” under Canadian law. Canada’s immigration law states that a person is inadmissible if they have been convicted of or committed an offense outside Canada that “would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament.” Canadian authorities have determined that a DWI conviction meets this standard.

Despite this restriction, New Jersey residents with DWI convictions should not despair. A U.S. citizen who is deemed inadmissible to Canada can still travel there with a “temporary resident permit” (TRP). They must demonstrate to an immigration officer that they have a compelling reason to visit Canada that “outweigh[s] the health or safety risks to Canadian society.” A TRP usually requires the payment of a fee of C$200, or approximately US$153 as of September 2016. Canadian immigration authorities are authorized to waive the fee if the visitor did not serve jail time and has no other convictions.

If you have been charged with alleged DWI in New Jersey, you should seek the assistance of a skilled and experienced DWI attorney. Evan Levow can help you understand your rights and guide you through the municipal court process. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (877) 593-1717.

More Blog Posts:

New Jersey Legislature Passes Bill Affecting Transit Engineers With DWI-Related License Suspensions, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, October 2, 2016

DWI Arrest Could Have Significant Immigration Consequences, According to U.S. State Department, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, September 19, 2016

DWI Convictions from Outside New Jersey May Count Toward Priors Leading to Criminal Charge for Driving with a Suspended License, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, May 10, 2016

Photo credit: futureatlas.com [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr.