Will a DUI Prevent Me from Travelling Abroad?

By Jonathan Blecher on September 12, 2018

If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol and you have plans to travel outside the United
States, it makes sense for you to consider if a DUI conviction can affect your ability to travel abroad.

“Will a DUI conviction stop me from getting a U.S. passport?” Generally, no, a DUI should not prevent someone from obtaining a U.S. passport, even a felony DUI. If you owe more than $2,500 in child support arrears on the other hand,
you would be denied a U.S. passport, but we’re not discussing family law in this forum.

A DUI Can Restrict Travel

While a DUI does not affect one’s ability to obtain a U.S. passport, it can still affect international travel. Canada for example, doesn’t take kindly to DUI convictions. In fact, if you’re convicted of DUI in the U.S., Canada probably won’t let you enter for 5 years, absent exceptional circumstances.

So, before you purchase those non-refundable plane tickets to Greece or Istanbul, be sure to check with the country you’re travelling to first and make sure there aren’t any travel restrictions, such as DUI or criminal convictions.

Other ways a DUI can impact travel abroad:

  • If the judge considers you a “flight risk,” he or she can require that you do not leave the state or the country while you’re on DUI probation.
  • As a condition of your probation, you can be restricted from leaving the area without your probation officer’s express permission.

If you’re a non-U.S. citizen and you are convicted of DUI, you must be aware that it could lead to removal proceedings. However, whether or not you’re placed in removal proceedings depends on:

  • Your criminal record.
  • If it was a drug-related DUI.
  • If it was a felony DUI.
  • If you were convicted of a marijuana offense in the past.

Not only can a DUI lead to removal proceedings (but not always), it can affect the naturalization process. Since the U.S. prefers to naturalize Green Card holders who have a good moral character, criminal convictions can be viewed in a negative light and bar someone from becoming a U.S. citizen.

Related: Can I Get Deported for a DUI?

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