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Jul 10, 2018

New Law Means Non-Citizens May Face Tough Consequences for Impaired Driving

On June 21, 2018, Bill C-46, known as the Impaired Driving Act, became law. The Act accompanies the Cannabis Act, which provides regulated legal access to cannabis, and brings several major changes to the Criminal Code and other Acts with a view to deterring impaired driving. One of these changes is to increase the maximum penalty for impaired driving. For non-citizens of Canada, this may lead to several grave consequences, including being removed from Canada or refused admission. These changes will come into force on December 18, 2018.

Currently, the penalty for impaired driving ranges from receiving a $1,000 fine for a first offence to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. The Impaired Driving Act increases this term to 10 years.

Before Bill C-46, an impaired driving conviction did not automatically result in inadmissibility to Canada for permanent residents. By increasing the maximum penalty to 10 years, Bill C-46 makes impaired driving an offense ​of serious criminality within the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Permanent residents convicted of impaired driving may lose their status and ultimately be removed from Canada. This is so even when the only penalty that was imposed was a simple fine, as what matters is not the actual sentence, but the maximum penalty one could receive.  

This increase in the maximum penalty would also affect those convicted of impaired driving offences outside Canada. Under the old legislation, individuals with an impaired driving conviction outside Canada could be deemed rehabilitated if at least 10 years have passed since they completed their sentence, and they would not be found inadmissible based on that conviction. Now, they would need to specifically demonstrate that they are rehabilitated, regardless of how old the conviction might be.

For more information on these new changes, please contact us directly.

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