Hiding the Truth about your DUI when Traveling to Canada
Misrepresentation is a legal term that describes non-disclosure of the truth. In terms of Canadian immigration, if you tell a lie or attempt to hide the truth about your DUI from a customs officer or immigration worker and that causes the officer to reach an erroneous decision, you are counteracting the proper legislation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). If you are found to be guilty of misrepresentation by an officer the consequences can be quite serious, often resulting in a ban from entering Canada for up to 5 years.
When an officer at the border or port of entry asks you if you have a criminal record or have ever been arrested before, it is in your best interest to say "Yes" if you have a DUI or other impaired driving charge on record. It is likely that the officer may have seen something come up on their initial screening of your passport and are seeing how you will respond. Admitting that you have a DUI will likely result in your being denied entry into Canada. But if you consider the alternative, misrepresenting yourself to the officer, especially when he or she may already have knowledge of your record, is never a good idea. Actively attempting to deceive an officer could result in bans of greater than 5 years (in some cases, even 10 years).
Canada has the reputation of being a somewhat "easygoing" country. While your attending officer at the border may seem relaxed and friendly, they still have a responsibility to uphold the immigration regulations and protect Canada from those who are criminally inadmissible. A DUI may not seem like a major criminal act, but under Canada's Criminal Code a DUI misdemeanor can be treated as an indictable offense. That is why when you are asked questions about your past and background, it is always best to be forthcoming with information.
Your entry into Canada lies with the sole discretion of the officer. If you do have a DUI or related charge on record, you will need to get special permission from that officer; otherwise you will be denied entry. Rather than risk your future ability to come to Canada, take steps to avoid misrepresentation and apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation. Our legal team can help you to prepare the documentation and forms necessary to satisfy the officer that you are not a threat to Canada. Telling the truth and showing that you are abiding with the terms of your DUI conviction will help you in the long term when visiting or doing business in Canada.