Imagine this: you’ve taken off from Tampa International Airport and arrived in sunny Cancun for your Mexican getaway. You’re ready to begin your vacation when there’s a twist: customs denies you entry! Why? A seven-year-old DUI conviction. It’s something you scarcely remember; after all, you had an experienced Florida DUI attorney, did some community service, and served no time. So how can this affect your travel plans, and in North America no less?
Florida DUI Classifications
Surprisingly, it can be difficult to cross international borders with a DUI conviction, especially if it’s a felony conviction as opposed to a misdemeanor conviction. Under Florida law, DUI convictions are categorized as follows:
- First Conviction: Misdemeanor with a maximum of six/nine months in jail and one year’s probation;
- Second Conviction: Misdemeanor with not more than nine months in jail;
- Third Conviction: Misdemeanor with not more than twelve months in jail;
- Fourth and any subsequent convictions: Felony with not more than five years in jail.
Further, for each DUI conviction Florida requires the driver to attend DUI school for 12-21 hours. Retaining the certificate from your Florida DUI course, such as those offered by Hillsborough County, can actually help you cross the border when the time comes, as your conviction will be accessible when your passport is scanned.
Crossing the Canadian or Mexican Border
Canada takes a particularly harsh stance on drunk driving convictions, whether misdemeanor or felony convictions. If you have a DUI conviction on your record, Canadian immigration officials have the authority to deny you entry into the country. Unlike in the United States, where a single DUI conviction will likely not bar you from the country, you are taking a risk by attempting to cross the Canadian border without a valid waiver. If you are planning on traveling to Canada, the Canada Border Service Agency does permit you to apply for a waiver, but it is important to contact an experienced attorney in the St. Petersburg’s Area for assistance, as such a waiver is discretionary.
Although Mexican officials do have authority to deny you entry into Mexico if you have committed a “serious crime,” you will likely not be denied entry based on a single misdemeanor conviction. If, however, you have multiple Florida DUI convictions such that you have a felony on your record, it is more likely than not you will be denied entry.
Contact an Experienced Florida DUI Attorney to Review Your Travel Plans
If you have been convicted of a DUI or other serious crime, especially within the past ten years, immigration officials will have access to your records. Accordingly, be sure to contact an experienced Florida DUI attorney before traveling across international borders, even North American borders. An attorney may be able to help you apply for a waiver, which will ease the risk of travel. The Khonsari Law Group has experience handling serious DUI offenses in the St. Petersburg area, and they may be able to assist you with your travel plans. Contact them today for a FREE, no-risk consultation at (727) 269-5300.