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Reckless Driving


While certain exceptions apply, a reckless driving conviction will render a foreign national inadmissible to Canada. A reckless driving conviction would include alcohol-related offences such as a “Wet Reckless” or a DUI/DWI.

In certain US jurisdictions, such as the state of Washington, a “Careless” (Class A) offence is the equivalent of a “Reckless” under the Canadian criminal code and will also render you inadmissible to Canada. In most jurisdictions, however, there is a legal distinction between a “Reckless” and a “Careless” or “Negligent” offence. Reckless driving offences remain one of the top inadmissible cases for US residents. A Reckless, or “Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle” to use the Canadian term, involves the “wanton disregard” for the life or safety of fellow motorists.

A Careless driver, on the other hand, is considered a departure from the standard of a prudent and reasonable driver to make the driver deserving of punishment but is generally not considered a criminal act. The difference is subtle but distinct in law.

Think of a “careless driver” as creating a “breach of duty to the public” and deserving punishment just like a speeding offender would, while the “reckless driver” as committing a crime and deserving of jail time and criminal sanctions.

While “careless driving” is a serious offence under most traffic laws in Canada, it is not a criminal offence and will not make you inadmissible to Canada. For instance, under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario, careless driving is punishable by a $2,000 fine and you can have your license suspended for two years. A Dangerous Operation or Reckless conviction, however, is punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a fine.

If you have a reckless or some form of carless conviction, it is worth consulting an experienced immigration specialist who is familiar with both US and Canadian criminal statutes to assess if the equivalent offence in Canada constitutes inadmissibility. If your offence does not equate to the Canadian “Dangerous Operation” (Reckless), the onus will be on you to prove it.

Do not leave this important matter to chance. Our firm can prepare a legal opinion of non-inadmissibility to an officer at the border for a smoother entry in Canada. This would include a detailed explanation of the US and Canadian statutes for the purposes of determining inadmissibility (“Equivalency Analysis”).

As Reckless Driving and its derivatives are not considered to be extremely serious, when compared to a sex offence of aggravated assault, one of the short-term relief mechanisms available may include a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) which can override your “inadmissibility” for a specific period of time based on a narrow set of circumstances. These would include important family or company business or if a traveler is entering Canada for tourism and wasn’t aware of his inadmissibility. If you think you fit in any of the above, schedule a consultation to determine your eligibility for a waiver.