On 18 December 2018, new, more serious, penalties for driving under the influence came into force. The amendments to the Criminal Code were enacted under Bill C-46 to accompany the legalization of cannabis in Canada, but apply equally to those driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or any other substance that can impair driving.
The increased criminal penalties will have significant implications for permanent residents and foreign nationals. Driving under the influence will now equate to serious criminality, meaning that a permanent resident convicted in Canada is at risk of receiving a deportation order and may also be at risk of losing permanent residence in Canada. A permanent resident who is caught driving under the influence outside of Canada is also at risk of receiving a deportation order, and with no opportunity to appeal that decision loss of permanent residence is an even more likely consequence. For foreign nationals convicted in Canada, there is little difference as a conviction for driving under the influence will continue to result in a deportation order. For foreign nationals caught driving under the influence outside of Canada, entry to Canada will be more challenging as the offence will equate to serious criminality meaning it will be more difficult and expensive to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit or apply for Rehabilitation.