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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What a DWI or DUI in New York means for Quebec drivers


What a DWI or DUI in New York means for Quebec drivers


Most Quebec drivers understand the serious penalties that come with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in their home province. Thankfully, a DWI that happens across the border in New York won’t have the same impact, right?


Wrong. New York and Quebec have a Reciprocal Agreement for drivers. This allows the Société de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to share information about their respective drivers and any traffic convictions that occur in their jurisdictions. A Quebecois who is convicted of drunk driving while in New York will face penalties from in both regions.

Penalties Imposed by NY for DWI

The range of possible penalties imposed by the State of New York for a first offense depends on the blood-alcohol content (BAC) of the driver. A driver with a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07 BAC can be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI). A BAC of 0.08 to 0.17 can lead to a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI). For drivers caught with a BAC of 0.18, the charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated (ADWI) applies.

The fines range from US$300 to US$2,500 depending on the specific charge. Drivers can also face an additional surcharge of US$260 to US$400, a possible jail sentence of up to one year, and either a suspension or revocation of driving privileges in New York. The chart below explains in more detail.





Jail Sentence



$300 to $500

$260 to $400

Up to one year

Suspension for 90 days


$500 to $1,000

$260 to $400

Up to one year

Revocation for six months


$1,000 to $2,500

$260 to $400

Up to one year

Revocation for one year

Penalties Imposed by Quebec for a NY DWI


Quebec has its own fines and other penalties for drunk driving. However, because the offense occurred in New York State, the usual penalties do not apply. Instead, as part of the Reciprocal Agreement Quebec can revoke a driver’s license for at least one year in response to a NY DWI conviction. Quebec will also record the conviction on the driving record, along with the revocation. In addition, if the driver has his/her license revoked or suspended in New York, it will be noted on the person’s driving record as well.  


Other Consequences of a NY DWI


In addition to the penalties imposed by New York and Quebec, there are consequences of a NY DWI conviction that are not formally imposed by a judge or licensing authority. These include:

  • Increases in auto insurance rates. Auto insurers take DWI convictions seriously regardless of whether they occur in Quebec or New York. It is no exaggeration to say that premiums will go up dramatically—in some cases, it can even triple. Most Canadian insurance companies will keep the premiums high for around three years, depending on the overall driving record and other factors.

  • Fallout from having a criminal record. A first offense of drunk driving is a misdemeanor in NY, although it can be charged as a felony in instances involving injury or death. Either way, a conviction means the driver will have a permanent criminal record. A criminal record in any state or province can affect one’s ability to get into college and/or obtain financial aid. It can also limit employment opportunities and affect where one can rent or buy a home.

  • Possible denied entry into the U.S. A Quebecois with a single, low-level DWI conviction should not have too much trouble getting into the U.S. However, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol may deny entry to Canadians with multiple DWIs (regardless of where they occurred) or other serious traffic offenses.


Can Quebec Drivers Be Extradited for a NY DWI?


Given that a jail sentence is a real possibility with a DWI charge, an obvious question for any Canadian should be whether or not he/she can be extradited to the U.S. to answer the charge. Canada does not extradite citizens for misdemeanors committed abroad. So if the DWI is being charged as a misdemeanor, Canada will not extradite. However, if the DWI was charged as a felony, then extradition is possible.


Why Quebec Drivers Should Hire a NY DWI Lawyer


It can be difficult enough to navigate the court system in another province, let alone another country. And a drunk driving charge in NY is not just some minor traffic offense. It is absolutely urgent that Quebec driver charged with drunk driving in New York hire a qualified NY DWI and traffic ticket attorney. A skilled attorney can examine the details of the case and develop a solid strategy to minimize or avoid any fines, surcharges, jail time, and license revocation. In addition, New York allows attorneys to appear in lieu of the client in most cases, meaning the driver may not have to cross the U.S./Canada border in order to fight the charge.


Author Bio

Adam H. Rosenblum, Esq. is the founder of TrafficTickets.com, a traffic ticket law firm that practices in both New York and New Jersey. The Rosenblum Law Firm frequently defends Canadian drivers who have been issued traffic tickets and criminal citations while in New York.

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