A lot of people facing potential deportation’ under upcoming changes to DUI penalties: immigration lawyer

November 22, 2018

By CBC News |

Impaired driving penalties could trigger deportation process for permanent, temporary residents

Getting an impaired driving conviction is a big deal for anyone — but for permanent and temporary residents of Canada, it could soon mean deportation.

That’s because of a change one immigration worker says “violates basic Canadian values and human rights,” and which a permanent residents says leave him worried about his friends and family.

On Dec. 18, amendments to the Criminal Code come into effect that will increase the maximum sentence for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to 10 years from five.

The changes are part of Bill C-46, which was intended to update impaired driving rules in light of legalized recreational cannabis use.

But the increased penalties also mean convictions for impaired driving will fall under the category of “serious criminality” for immigration determination purposes.

That change, in turn, triggers a section of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act dealing with admissibility to Canada.

It says a permanent resident convicted for a serious crime — an offence punishable by a maximum sentence of at least 10 years — or who receives a sentence of more than six months imprisonment will be sent to a deportation hearing.

Under the immigration act, people convicted of those “serious” crimes also lose the ability to appeal any deportation order through the Immigration Appeal Division, although they can still ask to stay on humanitarian or compassionate grounds.

The stiffer penalties also mean temporary residents who are convicted of impaired driving after Dec. 18 — including international students and foreign workers — may not be able to stay in Canada.

Refugee claimants who are already in Canada and are convicted may be ineligible to have their claim referred to a refugee board hearing under the new rules.

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