If you’ve been convicted of DUI or DWI, you may be turned away at the Canadian border. It doesn’t matter if you are a passenger in another person’s car or if you have no intention of driving in Canada. It does not matter if your DUI or DWI offense was a misdemeanor or a felony. There were no exceptions before 2012, and there’s only one exception now.

DUI in Canada is an “indictable offense,” the equivalent of a felony. However, since 2012, Canada allows certain first-time offenders a one-time exemption. The policy doesn’t help Americans with more than one DUI or DWI conviction or Americans who want to do regular business and come and go routinely. Those Americans will have to go through plenty of legal red tape. If you have a DUI or DWI conviction and you need to visit Canada regularly, obtain the advice and legal services you need from an experienced DUI defense attorney.

Americans with a single DUI or DWI conviction, with no imprisonment as part of the sentence, and with no other convictions or charges, can receive a free Temporary Resident Permit in lieu of paying Canada’s government the normal fee $200 fee. The new Canadian policy, just over two years old now, is a response to lost tourism revenue since the “Great Recession” of 2007-2008.

If you need to visit Canada routinely despite having a DUI or DWI on your record, there are two ways. You may file for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) at a Canadian visa office or upon arriving at the border. About 10,000 TRPs are granted annually; currently, the filing fee for a TRP is $200. Your second option is to prove to Canada that you are rehabilitated. If you are deemed rehabilitated, you can be granted lifetime access into Canada despite your convictions. The process is complicated; have it handled by a good DUI defense lawyer. Your last DUI conviction must be at least 5 years old to apply for rehabilitation. You file the rehabilitation forms with the nearest Canadian visa office. Fees range from $200 to $1,000 depending on the details of your conviction.

If you have any questions or concerns about travel restrictions or the other consequences of a California DUI conviction, have your questions and concerns addressed right away by consulting an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.