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Can You Visit Canada If You Received a Conditional Discharge for DUI?

Many states have DUI conditional discharge programs that allow individuals accused of impaired driving to be placed on probation without a judgment being entered against them. If all the conditions of probation are fulfilled, the DWI charges are then formally removed, and the person will not end up with a criminal record. In the meantime, however, anyone enrolled in a conditional discharge program may be inadmissible to Canada without special permission in the form of a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation.

When a person attempts to cross the border, Canadian immigration officials will be able to see their initial arrest, and until they have fulfilled all the requirements of the program and received proper documentation proving that their DWI has been fully dismissed they may not be admissible to Canada due to criminality. Remember, the onus is always on you to be able to prove your own admissibility to authorities at the border.

State Specific Conditional Discharge Programs

These programs can have a number of different names depending on the state, including suspended sentence, deferred prosecution, diversion, suspended imposition of sentencing, pre-trial intervention, and of course conditional discharge. The exact restrictions and conditions imposed on a DUI/DWI offender by a state-conditional program can vary by region. Below is an overview of the DUI conditional discharge program available in each state. We will attempt to keep this article as accurate as possible, but please be aware that this information is subject to change as new statutes are passed. This guide does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for proper legal counsel; always consult with an attorney about your exact situation. To speak to a lawyer about going to Canada with a conditional discharge for a DUI, phone us today for a free consultation.

Alabama: The state of Alabama offers deferred prosecution as a sentencing option for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as for possession of a controlled substance. Although deferred prosecution is usually only available to first-time DUI offenders, in Alabama it is available in lieu of a conviction even to offenders that have more than one DUI on their criminal record. Probationary conditions of the program generally include community service, drug and alcohol screenings, and alcohol abuse classes.

Alaska: Although the state of Alaska offers suspended imposition of sentencing for many criminal charges, it is not available for DUI or DWI violations.

Arizona: The state of Arizona has some of the harshest DUI laws in the United States, and even first-time offenders incur strict sentencing and can receive mandatory prison time. Suspended imposition of sentencing is available for some criminal offenses allowing charges to get dismissed without the accused receiving a criminal record, but driving while intoxicated offenses are typically ineligible.

Arkansas: The state of Arkansas allows offenders, including people charged with first-time drug offenses, to receive probation without any judgment being entered provided they fulfill all their probationary conditions. This option is not available for DUIs, however, and DUI offenders may not receive probation prior to judgment.

California: There is a statue in California for deferred entry of judgment that covers minor first-time drug offenses, but does not cover drunk driving violations.

Colorado: If you have been arrested for impaired driving in a jurisdiction of Colorado that does not allow DUI's to be pled down to non-alcohol related violations, and you had a "low" or "borderline" blood alcohol level (BAC), a diversion program or deferred judgment may be available to you.

Connecticut: First time DUI offenders in Connecticut may undergo an alcohol education program and probation period that upon completion allows their charges to be dropped and record expunged. The state's conditional discharge program does not, however, clear a person's criminal record of non-drinking & driving charges.

Delaware: A probation before judgment statute in Delaware allows individuals to plead guilty and face probation before any judgment is entered. If the offender then meets all probationary conditions, they are discharged without a conviction. While this program is available for DUI/DWI, it is not available to anyone who holds a commercial driver's license and has been charged with a violation involving a motor vehicle. Delaware also has a number of statutes that outline situation specific programs for first-time offenses, such as possession of a controlled substance and domestic violence. The "election in lieu of trial" statute allows a person charged with a first-time drunk driving offense to have their charges dismissed upon successful completion of the deferred judgment program.

Florida: Any individual who is charged in Florida with a third-degree misdemeanor or felony, a single non-violent misdemeanor, or who is a first-time offender, is eligible for the state's pretrial intervention program. This program allows the dismissal of DUI and DWI charges.

Georgia: The state has conditional discharge sentencing for possession of controlled substances and non-violent property offenses, but not for driving under the influence.

Hawaii: First-time drug offenders are eligible for the state's conditional discharge program, but other offenders (including DUI) are not.

Idaho: Sentencing of Idaho DUI offenses can be withheld in order to set aside the guilty plea and grant the individual probation. Once all the probation terms have been fulfilled, the defendant is then discharged without a conviction.

Illinois: Judges in Illinois have the option to sentence certain offenders, including first-time DUI offenders, to court supervision (conditional discharge), deferring conviction for a period of time. If all the sentence terms are fulfilled, the charges can be dismissed with no conviction being entered on the person's record.

Indiana: Entry of judgment cannot be withheld if a defendant pleads guilty to most offenses in Indiana, including for a DUI. The state does have a discharge program that makes an exception for first-time drug offenses, however.

Iowa: First time DUI offenders are eligible for deferred judgment provided they did not decline a breathalyzer test, did not cause any bodily harm, and their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was 0.15 or lower.

Kansas: First time DUI offenders who do not possess a commercial driver's license and have not caused any injuries are eligible for deferred prosecution via a diversion program. Once all the conditions of the program have been met, such as paying all fees and fines and attending an alcohol education class, the criminal record will be expunged of the charges (although the person's driving record will retain permanent evidence that he or she participated in the program).

Kentucky: In most counties, DUIs are not eligible for pretrial diversion programs. Since suitable offenses vary by county, however, there are a few exceptions such as Jefferson County.

Louisiana: In this state anyone charged with a first-time DUI is usually eligible for pre-trial diversion, although program availability and admissibility differs between districts.

Maine: Anyone charged with a Class C, D, or E criminal offense is eligible for a deferred disposition program in Maine. Since driving under the influence of alcohol is a Class D offense, it is possible to have your DUI dismissed upon completion of all probationary conditions.

Maryland: The state's probation before judgment program (PBJ) allows someone charged with a DUI to plead guilty, be placed on probation, and then have the charges dropped after they successfully complete the conditions of probation which often include mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.

Massachusetts: The only DUI offenders eligible for a diversion program in Massachusetts are those aged 18 to 22 who are first-time offenders.

Michigan: The state has diversion programs for certain offenses such as possession of alcohol by a minor, but DUI offenders are not eligible for any of them.

Minnesota: Conditional discharge programs are operated on a county level, and DUI offenses are usually not eligible for pre-trial diversion although other driving offenses are including driving while suspended and driving after revocation.

Mississippi: First-time offenders charged with non-violent criminal offenses can often have their charges dismissed without conviction via pre-trial diversion programs administered according to district, but whether or not driving while intoxicated is permitted can vary between districts.

Missouri: Grants suspended imposition of sentencing to anyone found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony DUI allowing people to be discharged without a conviction provided they fulfill all the necessary probationary conditions. All guilty pleas must be recorded in the Missouri police database, and anyone charged with DWI must face a minimum of two years of probation.

Montana: The state offers deferred imposition of sentencing, but it is not available to anyone facing DUI charges even if it is their first offense.

Nebraska: Pre-trial diversion programs are run at a county or city level, and availability as well as eligibility requirements can vary by district. These programs allow DUI offenders to have their charges dismissed provided the terms of probation are properly concluded.

Nevada: Although the state has many programs granting probation before entry of judgment, they are only available in special circumstances such as first-time drug possession or when mental illness is a factor. There is one program available in Nevada that offers reduced sentencing for DUI violations, but only third-time offenders can qualify for the one-time program, and they must be diagnosed with alcoholism by a doctor or substance abuse counselor.

New Hampshire: DUI conditional discharge program available that results in a conviction and criminal record that is later expunged upon completion of the program.

New Jersey: Anyone with a DUI is not eligible for a conditional discharge program or a pre-trial intervention program in the state. New Jersey defines driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated as a traffic violation instead of a criminal offense, which means it not only does not qualify for a conditional discharge, it cannot be expunged from a person's criminal record either. Even though a New Jersey DUI is not classified as a criminal offense, the Canadian border still has access to Department of Motor Vehicle records, and the DMV violation can still render a person inadmissible to Canada without a Temporary Resident Permit.

New Mexico: Since District Attorneys are free to establish unique pre-prosecution diversion programs in their jurisdiction, program requirements differ by region so depending on the location a DUI offense might not lead to a criminal conviction.

New York: Although New York State has a drunk driving education program to make it easier to get a driver's license reinstated, it does not have any type of diversion program available to people with a first time DUI.

North Carolina: The state has a deferred prosecution program that technically allows people with DUI or DWI charges to participate, however, the prosecutor must agree in order for them to be eligible which can be challenging.

North Dakota: Deferred imposition of sentencing is available in the state, but not to alcohol-related driving violators.

Ohio: The state has pre-trial diversion programs, but several offenses are not currently eligible including endangering children, prostitution, perjury, vehicular homicide, and DUI.

Oklahoma: DUI offenders are eligible for a deferred judgment sentencing program where a guilty plea is entered onto their criminal record but then expunged after completion of the required program conditions. In order to graduate from the program and be discharged without a conviction, individuals must undergo an alcohol and drug substance abuse evaluation.

Oregon: Nearly all first-time misdemeanor offenses are eligible for probation without entering a judgment, except DWI offenses and domestic violence.

Pennsylvania: The state's conditional discharge program is called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) and allows individuals with a first-time DUI to have their charges dismissed without entry of judgment as long as they achieve all the compulsory conditions such as finishing a DUI education program, paying a large fine, and suspension of driver's license.

Rhode Island: Has a five-year deferment period after which an offender's charges are exonerated and their record sealed. The program does not apply to impaired driving offenses, however.

South Carolina: Has a pretrial intervention program that permits the dismissal and expungement of criminal charges after a 90 day probation period, but violent crimes and D.U.I. / D.W.I. are not accepted in the program.

South Dakota: The state has a suspended imposition of sentence program that is available to all first-time offenders except for anyone charged with a felony offense that is punishable by life imprisonment. All individuals charged with DUI are eligible, and once probation is completed satisfactorily the individual is not left with a criminal record.

Tennessee: Has a deferral program for people with DUIs that allows the court to dismiss all proceedings against the person once probationary conditions are met including drug and alcohol assessment or treatment, restitution, and a DWI education program.

Texas: The deferred adjudication program in Texas allows offenders to have their charges dismissed without entering an adjudication of guilty provided they undergo community supervision. This program currently excludes all alcohol-related motor vehicle offenses, however, although the program could start to include DUIs in 2017.

Utah: The state allows people to make a "plea in abeyance" where the court does not enter a conviction and if the person completes all the terms of probation the charges are dismissed. Anyone charged with a DUI or DWI is not eligible, however.

Vermont: First-time DUI offenders qualify to have their sentence deferred, but 2nd, 3rd, and subsequent DUI charges are not eligible. Unlike many other states, however, there is an adjudication of guilty and an official conviction, although once an individual wraps up their probation the guilty verdict is stricken.

Virginia: The state offers deferred disposition for many offenses such as underage possession of alcohol, drug possession, domestic abuse, assault, battery, and some property offenses, but DUI offenses are not eligible for the program.

Washington: The comprehensive deferred prosecution program in Washington state requires a DUI or DWI offender to be diagnosed with alcohol dependence by a professional in order to get into the program. To graduate from the program and not be formally charged with drunk driving, the individual must attempt to get sober, and anyone unwilling to try to recover is in violation of the program's terms and will end up with a criminal record potentially making them inadmissible to cross the border into Canada.

West Virginia: The state has a special sentence deferral program for drunk drivers, causing charges to be dismissed after 165 days in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program. The one-time program is only available to people who have been charged with their first DUI, and anyone with a commercial driver's license is ineligible for the program.

Wisconsin: The state only considers a first DUI to be criminal if there was a passenger in the car younger than 16 years old. All subsequent DWIs are treated as criminal offenses and do not qualify for the state's deferred prosecution program.

Wyoming: Provided you do not have a commercial driver's license, an original DUI offense qualifies for the state's deferred prosecution program placing the individual on probation and then dismissing his or her charges after they finish their probation.

Enrolled in or graduated from a conditional discharge program for DUI and now want to go to Canada? Phone us today for a free consultation!

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