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BLOG: A drink driving ban can impact overseas opportunities

Written by: Jeanette Miller
Many people are unaware that a drink driving conviction can jeopardise overseas opportunities, so Jeanette Miller of specialist motor offences firm Geoffrey Miller Solicitors highlights the exact impact of drink driving bans abroad.

During 2012, over 55,000 people in England and Wales were convicted of driving after consuming alcohol or taking drugs.

If convicted of a drink driving offence, you could face a minimum 12 month driving ban and a hefty (unlimited) fine equating to 1.5 weeks’ net income.

But unlike penalty points, the conviction is classed as a criminal record.  As a result, entering certain countries could prove difficult in the future.

Many countries have different restrictions on entering the country that can impact people convicted of drink driving convictions:


To visit Australia you need a pre-arranged Electronic Travel Authority. While these are usually granted automatically, there can be delays if you have a criminal record such as a drink driving conviction. Your application may be referred to the Australian High Commission or you may have to apply for a police certificate which can take up to 49 days. While a drink driving conviction may delay your application, it’s unlikely that it will prevent you from obtaining a visa to enter Australia.


If you’ve ever been arrested, even if the arrest didn’t lead to a conviction or you have a criminal conviction including drink or drug driving, you must apply to the US Embassy for a visa rather than relying on an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation). In cases where the arrest resulted in a conviction, you may be permanently ineligible to receive a visa.  Applicants are required to get an Association of Chief Police Officers Police Certificate issued within six months of the date of the visa interview.  You will then have a face-to-face meeting with the US Embassy in London to seek eligibility for a visa.  It can take between 90 days and six months for the visa to be approved.


Canada sets out all kinds of criteria to demonstrate an offender has been rehabilitated before they may enter the country. A Canadian immigration officer will determine whether the charge/conviction makes the offender “inadmissible” to Canada under the Country’s Immigration and Refugee Protection act.


Travel within Europe is unrestricted if you are a European passport holder. However, the UK takes drink driving convictions seriously for those travelling from outside of the EU. An application will normally be refused if an individual has been convicted of a criminal offence within the previous 12 months.



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