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Could a DUI keep you from traveling out of the country?

Posted by Bulldog Law | Sep 23, 2022 | 0 Comments

Before you decide it's not worth it to try to fight a DUI charge, it's crucial that you realize all of the effects it can have on virtually every aspect of your life – including where you can travel for vacation or business. 

A DUI on your record in California (or any other state) can prevent you from entering another country. All countries have their own laws around allowing visitors with a criminal record to enter. 

Drunk driving is a more serious offense in some other countries than it typically is in the U.S. – for example, in the Middle East. A DUI conviction can also prevent you from traveling across our border. Let's look more closely at the regulations of our neighbors to the south and north.


Anyone who has had a DUI conviction within the last 10 years can expect to be denied entry into Mexico. Mexico considers drunk driving offenses “indictable” crimes, which are similar to our felony crimes. People who have been convicted of felonies in the U.S. or crimes that Mexico equates with felonies can be prevented from entering.


Canadian regulations are a little more complicated. If someone has been convicted of a drunk driving offense within the past five years, Canadian law prohibits them from entering. As in Mexico, a DUI is the equivalent of a felony. 

Once you've hit the five-year mark (and have had no other criminal offenses), however, you can enter if you're willing to pay a $200 fine or apply for something called “criminal rehabilitation” to seek entry. Only after ten years following your conviction (and no further criminal convictions) can you enter without going through either of the above steps. Ten years is the point where Canada deems someone “rehabilitated by time.”

Can an expungement allow you to travel freely?

If you already have a DUI conviction and you need to travel across the border to visit family, for work or for a vacation, you may want to seek an expungement of the conviction from your criminal record. If that was your only criminal conviction, this should free you up to travel as you choose. Whether you have been charged with DUI or have been convicted and want to seek an expungement, it's crucial to have experienced legal guidance.

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