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How drink driving bans can impact overseas opportunities

  • Drink driving offences can get you a criminal record and impact your chances of working, studying or travelling abroad.
  • When travelling to Australia your application can be delayed and reffered to the Australian High Commission.
  • You may be permanently ineligible to receive a visa to the USA if you have been convicted. 

Warnings that many people are unaware that a drink driving conviction can jeopardise your chances of working, studying or travelling abroad.

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

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 driving, you must apply for a visa. 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.

Jeanette Miller, Managing Director of Geoffrey Miller Solicitors says: “Every country has its own policies on allowing entry and it’s therefore essential that anyone who has been arrested or convicted for a drink driving offence checks the visa requirements for entering their destination country. Drink driving convictions could see your travels brought to an abrupt halt and at the very least slow down the visa application process. It’s therefore important to seek advice and apply as soon as possible so your plans aren’t disrupted. ”

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