In June of 2018, Canada amended its criminal code via Bill C-46, to create more significant consequences for those convicted of DUI in that country. Taking effect in December of 2018, among other changes, the maximum penalty for a DUI will be increased from five to ten years.
How does Bill C-46 affect entry into Canada for those with a DUI?
Under the current Canadian criminal code, DUI is considered an offense of “ordinary criminality” such that it carries a maximum punishment of five years. Correspondingly, that means that individuals convicted of offenses of criminality, such as DUI, are deemed inadmissible for ten years. After five years one can apply for an “approval of rehabilitation” and prior to five years the only way to travel to Canada would be to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit.
Once the amendment officially takes effect, the maximum punishment for a DUI conviction increases to ten years as the crime is re-designated as one of “serious criminality”. This will have several impacts on those with DUI or DUI related convictions who wish to travel into Canada. No longer will one convicted of DUI be automatically deemed rehabilitated after ten years. They will still be allowed to seek “approval of rehabilitation” after five years but the designation of “serious criminality” means that the application and review process will likely become more difficult and restrictive. The same will be true for those seeking a Temporary Resident Permit.
Convictions for lesser offenses
Canada has always treated convictions for charges reduced from DUI, such as Reckless Driving and Negligent Driving in the First Degree the same as it does the DUI itself. Especially if the charge includes recklessness, any degree of impairment or bodily injury. The language for Bill C-46 doesn’t appear to include any qualifiers related to amended charges so it would seem even these lesser offenses would be treated as offenses of serious criminality. One difference now may be that when applying for rehabilitation or a temporary resident permit, having the charge reduced may be beneficial if indeed these applications will now receive increased scrutiny.
Because Bill C-46 appears to have a disproportionately adverse effect on immigrants, permanent residents and foreign nationals, amendments to the bill have been proposed that would place DUI back below the threshold of “serious criminality”. Whether those efforts are successful prior to the new law taking effect in December of 2018 will bear watching.