Like most residents of Indianapolis, you do your best to drive cautiously and responsibly. After all, a traffic citation can set you back hundreds of dollars. It can also cause your insurance rates to spike. If you have too much to drink before getting behind the wheel, however, operating a vehicle while intoxicated could turn your life upside down.
While you may worry about losing your driving privileges following a drunk driving conviction, your OWI could have a ripple effect on your future plans. If you plan a dream vacation to Canada or regularly travel into Toronto for business or pleasure, an OWI in the United States may prevent you from crossing the border altogether. Therefore, to protect your travel plans, you may need to exercise your legal right to defend yourself against an OWI conviction.
Drunk driving is a serious offense in Canada
In Indiana, first-time OWI offenses are usually misdemeanors. Canadian law, however, does not apply the same classification. Instead, a drunk driving offense in Canada is the equivalent of a felony. If you face an OWI charge, the distinction may seem academic. Nevertheless, if you ever want to visit Canada, an OWI conviction in Indiana may have real-world consequences.
When determining whom to admit into the country, Canadian officials do not consider Indiana’s OWI classification. On the contrary, they evaluate whether the Indiana offense would be a serious matter under Canadian law. For an OWI, the conviction is sufficiently serious for officials to deny you admission to Canada.
An OWI dismissal may work in your favor
Canadian immigration officers have access to U.S. criminal databases. Therefore, you can expect the border officer to know about your OWI arrest. If you manage to secure a dismissal of your Indiana OWI charge, though, you may have no trouble at all entering Canada.
Whether a criminal conviction in the United States affects travel to Canada probably depends on a complete legal analysis of both your criminal charges and Canadian law. Nonetheless, you should realize that an OWI conviction in Indiana may permanently bar you from entering the Great White North. As such, if you face drunk driving charges in the Hoosier state, you may need to fight aggressively to ensure your future trips to Canada do not become impossible.