Can You Get Into Canada With a Reckless Driving Charge?

The simple answer is yes; provided you’re willing to jump through a few legal hoops. If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, you are likely inadmissible to Canada. There are two main ways to overcome your criminal inadmissibility. The first is to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This permit will allow you to enter Canada for a limited time. The second option is to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. If approved, traveling to Canada will no longer be an issue. Your criminal inadmissibility will be permanently resolved.

Both options depend on how long it has been since you completed your offense’s sentence. Also, the nature of your offense(s), the circumstances, and the severity are considered. All of these factors, and more, will influence your eligibility to enter Canada.

Rest assured that there is a structured process to enter Canada in your situation. However, there will be several obstacles along the way. For instance, checking the status of your inadmissibility, and choosing the application process best suited for your predicament.

Just as if you were going into battle, it’s important to arm yourself for the journey ahead of you. Your best piece of armor: knowledge and comfort with the topic at hand. The first steps towards which can be found in the rest of this article. At DUI Canada Entry, we hope to serve as your one-stop-shop for all things Canadian Immigration Law.  

Why Can’t You Go to Canada With a Reckless Driving Charge?

Fun Fact: USA and Canada share the longest border between two countries in the world. Border crossing laws, on both sides of the fence, regulate travel between them in order to minimize risk and danger to their respective societies.

Canada is rigorous in implementing its border regulations. Their laws are such that any foreign nationals who have committed serious natured offenses cannot enter Canada; in many instances, offenses such as reckless driving.

This is called criminal inadmissibility, a policy that restricts the access of foreigners based on their past criminality. Mind you, this does not permanently or completely prohibit visitors with a criminal background to enter Canada, as there are legal remedies, like those discussed earlier, for overcoming your inadmissibility.

As you may be aware, a DUI conviction will render you inadmissible to Canada. Many do not realize, however, that pleading down this conviction to a lesser offense can still deem you inadmissible. This is because your admissibility to Canada is determined on the basis of equivalence between the laws of both nations. Now we’re starting to scratch the surface of the complications we touched on earlier.

Criminal Code of Canada: Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle

Reckless driving may seem like a much lesser offense than driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Unfortunately, despite the conviction bearing differences in sentencing or severity in many states, “reckless driving” is usually equivalent to the Canadian offense of “dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.”

Since the section of Canada’s criminal code that deals with “dangerous operation” is so broad, many different types of statutes such as “wet reckless” or “dry reckless” may be interpreted as equivalent.

To put this equivalence matter in simple terms, In Canada, a DUI and a Dangerous Operation charge both have the same severity. They are both hybrid offenses that are punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.

Therefore, in the eyes of a border agent, you are still inadmissible to Canada, even with a reckless driving conviction, because the equivalence in law constitutes that you still have a relatively serious offense on your record.

Many states in the US see an obvious difference between a DUI and a reckless driving charge, as is made evident by the variation in the severity of punishment. This, however, is not the case in Canada, and is the driving cause behind the immigration complications as a consequence of having this type of criminal record.

DUI offenses are frequently reduced, or pleaded down to two different kinds of reckless driving charges in many states, namely “wet reckless” and “dry reckless”. We’ve offered a quick summary of their meanings and immigration consequences below.

Wet Reckless

This is a common reduction in many states for first DUI offenders. For defense attorneys, reducing the sentence to a wet reckless is a win in itself, however, it still mentions the use of substance. Canadian immigration officers determining the equivalence of this charge will often deem applicants inadmissible, since any offence relating to a person driving under the influence, regardless of substance, is grounds for inadmissibility.

The very language used, “wet reckless”, implies elements that often make one inadmissible. A defense attorney must consult his or her client, and communicate his/her evaluation of their client’s inadmissibility if they have been successful in reducing the DUI to a wet reckless driving charge.

Dry Reckless

A dry reckless charge is not commonly reduced from a DUI, since it is an offence that does not mention the use of substances in its definition. Nevertheless, it is possible for a skilled defense attorney to accomplish this reduction in special circumstances.

There are critical benefits of this, as a dry reckless driving charge is not priorable, and therefore will not count as prior DUI offence in the event that a subsequent DUI  is charged.

How Can a Canadian Immigration Lawyer Can Help?

As mentioned earlier, a reckless driving offence in and of itself equates to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, which is an inadmissible offence under Canadian law. Whether you have been convicted for a reckless driving offence, wet reckless, or dry reckless, it is always advisable to contact a Canadian immigration lawyer. They will help you analyze and understand your criminal past, and how it can affect your admissibility to Canada.

Why hire an immigration lawyer? Finding out the equivalence of the law of your specific conviction under Canadian federal law is just one step of a lengthy process. Other factors involve the differences between serious and non-serious criminality, how many offences you have, and how many years have passed since certain events in your history.

We recommend any past offender to contact a Canadian immigration law firm in order to help determine whether they are criminally inadmissible based on their offence(s), and how they should most appropriately proceed in order to maximize the chances of successfully gaining access to Canada. If you are interested, here is a free assessment form to cater information to your unique predicament.

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