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New DUI Legislation & Its Impact on Convicted Permanent Residents of Canada

Along with the major legal changes surrounding permitting cannabis consumption in Canada, the criminal lawyers at Phoenix Legal have uncovered equally important restrictions in this area. On June 21, 2018, Bill C-46 came into force across Canada and becomes effective on December 18, 2018. The bill provides serious consequences for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and/or alcohol and has an even greater impact on non-citizens in Canada.


The Blood-Drug Limits 


There are three new offences for driving while impaired including: 

  • Driving with between 2 ng and 5 ng of THC per ml of blood (this comes with a $1,000 fine).
  • Driving with 5 ng or more THC/ml of blood, along with any detection of certain other drugs (the penalties range from $1,000 fine to 12 days of imprisonment, depending on the number of offences); and
  • 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood + 2.5ng+ THC/ml of blood (the penalties range from $1,000 fine to 12 days of imprisonment, depending on the number of offences). 


In the event that any such offence causes bodily harm or death, the penalties range from 18 months’ imprisonment to life imprisonment.  


Drug Screening Tools 


Bill C-46 provides the government with the tools to ensure road safety and prevent accidents caused by drug impairment. For example, police can do a random roadside stop if they believe an individual may be driving impaired. Refusing to comply with a police officer’s demand results in similar consequences for refusing a breath sample. 


Further, the police can demand a saliva sample using oral fluid drug screeners and also demand blood drug samples to determine the level of THC in an individual’s blood. All tools available are to enforce a zero-tolerance impaired driving policy.  


Inadmissibility 


The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) makes a temporary worker, student and visitor inadmissible to Canada if s/he is convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for at least 10 years - known as “serious criminality”.  


Section 36 of the IRPA says the following:  


Serious Criminality 

36 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality for 

  • (a) Having been convicted in Canada of an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years, or of an offence under an Act of Parliament for which a term of imprisonment of more than six months has been imposed; 
  • (b) Having been convicted of an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years; or 
  • (c) Committing an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years. 


Bill C-46 raises the maximum penalty for impaired driving to 10 years for a first-time indictment if the individual was operating a motor vehicle while impaired, thereby reclassifying the offence as “serious criminality”. 


As such, an individual who has been convicted one of the offences noted above will no longer be admissible to enter Canada. Whereas an individual convicted of an above offence was previously deemed rehabilitated after 10 years under prior legislation, with the new rules in place, s/he would no longer deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time. Rather, success rehabilitation would have to be proven to the Canadian government with extensive documentation.  


Permanent Residents  


Bill C-46 also has a serious effect on permanent residents. A non-citizen in Canada who is permanent resident that has been convicted of one of the new offences can lose his or her immigration status and be banned from Canada in addition to paying a fine. Further, there is no right to appeal a decision of inadmissibility if the offence was punishable by more than six months.  


The new restrictions also affect the alcohol impairment repercussions. For example, even where a permanent resident receives a fine and probation for a first time DUI offence, he or she may lose permanent resident status. The purpose of such strict legislation is to ensure that the laws permitting cannabis consumption do not result in harm from drug or alcohol impaired driving.  


Call Phoenix Legal Barristers & Solicitors in Calgary 


Bill C-46 has a serious impact on temporary and permanent residents of Canada. While the bill is very recent and the full impact is not yet known, our criminal defense lawyers in Calgary have reviewed this bill in detail and can help guide you through how it might affect you. The prospect of deportation may be concerning for any permanent resident in Calgary. Contact us at 403-568-3000 if you are at risk of deportation from Canada in Calgary or wish to seek an immigration appeal in Calgary.

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