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Starting on December 18, 2018, Canada significantly increased the penalties associated with a conviction of impaired driving.

The Criminal Code of Canada has specifically been amended to include significantly harsher potential sentences for impaired driving offences. This includes increasing the maximum jail sentence associated with a conviction for impaired driving from 5 to 10 years.

Who Will This Impact?

While this will impact all individuals, it has the potential to have a particularly significant effect on non-Canadians and their employment prospects. This is because permanent residents of Canada can be removed from Canada as a result of a conviction for serious criminality. Similarly, under Canada’s immigration laws, foreigners can be deemed ineligible to enter or remain in Canada on the basis that they have engaged in activities which is considered to constitute serious criminality (typically an offence that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years or more).

Criminal records matter for immigration purposes. This is because Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“Immigration Canada”) has a mandate to consider public safety in deciding who can enter and remain in Canada. This means that individuals who are not Canadian citizens (including permanent residents, foreign workers, foreign students, and visitors) must demonstrate that they do not have any specific health or criminal matters that is considered too high a risk for Canada.

While not everyone who has been convicted of an offence is barred from Canada, the chances of being admitted to the country is generally much lower for those who have engaged in serious criminality.

Further, while those who are inadmissible under Canada’s immigration laws can overcome their inadmissibility through a request for to be considered “rehabilited” by Canada’s immigration authorities, no longer will individuals convicted of an impaired driving offence be able to rely on what is called “deemed rehabilitation”, meaning they will not be able to benefit from automatic rehabilitation after a period of time passes following completion of the sentence associated with the conviction.

Takeaways and More Information

The recent changes underline the importance of ensuring compliance with Canada’s immigration laws to avoid unintended consequences such as loss of employment and potential removal from Canada.

For information regarding this issue or the related admissibility matters in your situation, please contact Sultan Lawyers PC by telephone at 416-214-5111 or by email at mlahert@sultanlawyers.com.


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