Can Drunk Driving Conviction Drive Me Out of Canada?

Drunk Driving Conviction Drive Me Out of Canada

This is the question many foreign nationals and permanent residents should be asking themselves after the latest amendments to the drinking and driving sentencing regime came into force.


Section 36(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that a permanent resident and foreign national becomes inadmissible to Canada on grounds of serious criminality which includes conviction of an offense in Canada punishable by a maximum term of at least ten years imprisonment.


The federal government has increased the maximum punishment for simple drinking and driving offenses (those not involving bodily harm or death) from a former maximum of five years to ten years imprisonment. This makes any person who has no Canadian citizenship subject to removal from Canada if convicted of a drinking and driving offense. Note that you do not have to be sentenced to ten years or even to any jail time at all, the simple fact that such a sentence is available makes you inadmissible.

This change attracted a lot of criticism since it clearly introduced consequences that are disproportionately serious for a huge segment of the population, however, the fact is that the law did get changed.

Accordingly, today more than ever non-citizens charged with drinking and driving offenses must fight these charges to avoid, among other negative consequences of a criminal conviction, their removal from Canada.