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Can a DUI Stop Me From Getting a U.S. Passport?


If you were recently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and you plan to travel abroad, you’re probably wondering, “Can I get a passport with a DUI conviction?” When a driver is convicted of DUI in Orange County or anywhere else in California, they generally face a number of penalties, such as fines, probation, AA classes, DUI School, attending a MADD victim impact panel, driver’s license suspension, and more.

Considering the consequences of a DUI, it’s understandable why someone might think that their passport would be denied, but fortunately, this is not typical. As a general rule, California drivers are not prohibited from obtaining a U.S. passport if they are convicted of DUI, even a felony DUI.

A DUI Can Impact Travel Abroad

A driver’s passport privileges are not automatically revoked because they are convicted of DUI. However, that does not mean that their traveling privileges cannot be restricted after a DUI conviction, because it is possible.

A person can be barred from international travel if:

  • The judge forbids them from traveling abroad as a part of their condition of probation or parole
  • The defendant is considered a “flight risk”
  • The defendant is facing serious felony charges
  • The defendant was arrested for a federal offense

Travel Restrictions Possible

When a driver is convicted of a misdemeanor DUI, they should not have any trouble obtaining a U.S. passport unless a judge says otherwise due to special circumstances. While the U.S. may not bar a DUI offender from obtaining a passport, other countries may impose restrictions, strictly prohibiting the individual from visiting their country.

As a matter of fact, our neighbor, Canada is the most notable example of a country that frowns upon DUIs. Canada reserves the right to bar people with DUI convictions (misdemeanor and felony convictions for DUI of alcohol or drugs) from entering the country.

Canada considers DUI a serious crime and if someone has a recent DUI conviction, it will bar the U.S. citizen from entering. Is there any way to get around this? There are ways, but they are limited. One of the best ways to gain entry into Canada after a DUI arrest is to avoid a DUI conviction in the first place.

If you’re facing DUI charges and you’re concerned that a conviction may affect your ability to travel internationally, contact our office for a free consultation with a Board-Certified DUI defense specialist!

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