Can You Travel Abroad With a Georgia DUI Conviction?

Can You Travel Abroad With a Georgia DUI Conviction?

A Georgia DUI conviction can limit your ability to travel freely, especially if the penalties include license suspension or revocation, limited driving privileges, or an ignition interlock device. A DUI record may also prevent you from being admitted to other countries for business or pleasure — including nearby North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico. If you plan international travel with a DUI, you must check the restrictions of the country or countries you wish to visit. Travel limitations are just one of the many reasons to defend aggressively against a DUI charge by retaining an experienced DUI lawyer.

International Travel Limitations With a DUI Conviction

Quite a few countries outside the United States have restrictions on entering for individuals with a DUI conviction. In general, before you commit to any international travel for pleasure or business, it is essential to thoroughly research the immigration laws of the country or countries you wish to visit. Planning in advance is necessary in many cases, because you may need to secure special permission to enter a country. Depending on your circumstances, it may also be necessary to consult with an immigration attorney who knows the laws of your intended destination(s).

The information provided here is advisory only — it does not constitute legal advice about international travel. Regardless of where you wish to travel, potential restrictions will be based on your specific circumstances, including the nature (such as whether the DUI conviction is felony DUI or misdemeanor DUI), the dates of your DUI conviction and sentence completion, other convictions on your record (related or unrelated to the DUI), and other factors relating to your situation.

Regardless of where you want to travel, it is a very bad idea to try to hide a DUI conviction on any application forms or when questioned by foreign authorities. Many countries have access to United States criminal record databases. If you attempt to conceal a DUI record, you could end up in an even more difficult situation than if you disclose it.

Admission to Canada With a DUI Conviction

Like many U.S. states, Canada has very strict laws relating to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It also has a restrictive immigration policy toward persons with criminal records, including DUI. If you have a DUI conviction and go to Canada without researching the requirements and taking the necessary steps, you may find that you are denied entry. That applies whether you fly or drive, or try to enter as a passenger in a vehicle. It also applies even if you do not plan to drive while in Canada.

Any DUI conviction within the last five years is problematic for gaining entry to Canada. If the conviction and sentence completion were more than five years ago — or more than ten years ago — you may be able to follow available procedures to get permission to enter. Planning well in advance is essential, as these processes take time to complete. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to gain admission to Canada through one of these processes:

  • Temporary Resident Permit: Even if it has been less than five years since you completed the sentence for your DUI conviction, you may be able to apply for a temporary resident permit. Canadian officials must determine that your admission does not pose a risk to the safety or security of Canadian residents before they grant a permit.
  • Individual (or Criminal) Rehabilitation: If it is more than five years since completion of your sentences, you may be able to apply for individual rehabilitation status, sometimes called criminal rehabilitation. You must prove that your conviction was a one-time event and that you have a stable lifestyle.
  • Deemed Rehabilitation: You may qualify for deemed rehabilitation status if it has been more than 10 years since completion of your sentence for felony DUI or five years for misdemeanor DUI.

Whatever your circumstances, you risk being denied entry to Canada if you have a DUI conviction and do not qualify for and follow the available procedures.

Admission to Countries Other Than Canada

For travel to countries other than Canada, restrictions for a person with a DUI conviction vary widely. In most instances, decisions by immigration officials are made on a case-by-case basis. You may be denied admission at the border if you do not thoroughly research the immigration rules for your travel destinations. Depending on the situation and country, you may be able to obtain a waiver or special permit, but applying in advance is usually necessary.

Examples of immigration restrictions in other countries include:

  • Mexico restricts entry for persons convicted of serious crimes. A felony DUI conviction within the last 10 years may prevent entry. A misdemeanor conviction may be less problematic.
  • European countries generally do not have restrictions on entry by persons with a DUI conviction, but checking individual country limitations is important.
  • China, Japan, and Malaysia have extensive background check requirements and may deny entry for a DUI conviction. You may be able to apply for a travel waiver.
  • Australia and New Zealand have immigration rules relating to DUI convictions. A travel waiver process may be available.
  • Middle Eastern countries have varying approaches that apply to DUI convictions. In some cases, a conviction may result in denied entry.
  • South Africa requires disclosure of felony DUI convictions, even if you are not specifically asked.

No matter what country or countries you wish to visit, the bottom line is that you need to ascertain what restrictions may apply if you have a DUI conviction and follow available procedures to secure a waiver or special permit.

Avoiding DUI Travel Restrictions

The best way to prevent having to cope with travel restrictions locally or to other countries is to avoid a DUI conviction. If you face DUI charges, you should immediately contact an experienced Georgia DUI lawyer and aggressively defend against the charges.

Talk with an Experienced Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer

Our criminal and DUI defense lawyers at The McCoy Law Firm, LLC have decades of experience representing defendants facing DUI charges in northwest Georgia. If you need representation on a DUI charge, please contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, so we can begin working on your case right away.

Categories: DUI