Getting a USA visa (travelling to america with a drink driving conviction)

#1
My son is two months into a 14 month ban for drink driving. We have only just realised the implications of this for our holiday in America which has been booked for 10 months.
He needs to visit the American Embassy asap to obtain a visa: the US guidelines say he has to be interviewed and "may" be referred for a medical report which would a further 8 weeks or so. This would mean the end of his holiday as it would take us beyond our travel date.
My son is 19 years old and it was a first offence, with a breath test reading of 69. He was stopped before pulling away from the kerb so there was no erratic driving, damage, injuries or other complications (thank goodness).
Given those facts, has anyone any idea of:
a) the likelihood of him having to have the medical report
b) the likelihood of him being refused a visa altogether.
The Embassy staff are very tight lipped and will not give any info on what the outcome might be. I know each case is different and we will have to wait and see, but it would be nice to hear from anyone who has had any relevant experience.
Thanks for reading!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
#2
Re: Getting a USA visa

My son is two months into a 14 month ban for drink driving. We have only just realised the implications of this for our holiday in America which has been booked for 10 months.
He needs to visit the American Embassy asap to obtain a visa: the US guidelines say he has to be interviewed and "may" be referred for a medical report which would a further 8 weeks or so. This would mean the end of his holiday as it would take us beyond our travel date.
My son is 19 years old and it was a first offence, with a breath test reading of 69. He was stopped before pulling away from the kerb so there was no erratic driving, damage, injuries or other complications (thank goodness).
Given those facts, has anyone any idea of:
a) the likelihood of him having to have the medical report
b) the likelihood of him being refused a visa altogether.
The Embassy staff are very tight lipped and will not give any info on what the outcome might be. I know each case is different and we will have to wait and see, but it would be nice to hear from anyone who has had any relevant experience.
Thanks for reading!
Hi Miss Marple,

Take a look at the Visa Waiver Program.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business [visitor (B) visa purposes] for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

The United Kingdom participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Hope this helps.
 
#3
Re: Getting a USA visa

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately if you have ever been arrested or have a criminal record you are not able to use the Visa Waiver Programme (which has actually been replaced by something called ESTA but it's more or less the same thing). You have to apply for a visa.

They are pretty strict and apparently if you have ever been arrested, even if you are found not guilty or released without charge, you still have to apply for a visa. They do not recognise the rehabilitation of offenders act, so as far as they are concerned your criminal conviction lasts for life - no such thing as a spent conviction.

If anyone has been through the visa interview we would love to hear your experience.
 
#4
Re: Getting a USA visa

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately if you have ever been arrested or have a criminal record you are not able to use the Visa Waiver Programme (which has actually been replaced by something called ESTA but it's more or less the same thing). You have to apply for a visa.

They are pretty strict and apparently if you have ever been arrested, even if you are found not guilty or released without charge, you still have to apply for a visa. They do not recognise the rehabilitation of offenders act, so as far as they are concerned your criminal conviction lasts for life - no such thing as a spent conviction.

If anyone has been through the visa interview we would love to hear your experience.
Yes, that is the case. I dont have any first hand experience regarding visa's, just came across the link and thought it may be of use. Hopefully someone who has been through this process can advise you further.

Good luck, and I hope you get your son a visa and you are all able to enjoy your holliday.
 
Last edited:
#5
Re: Getting a USA visa

Unfortunately, it is the case that your son wont be able to go the USA. Different countries have diffeent rules. I relate to my sister who travelled with my mum (after a guilty plea of attempting to get a substance into a prison for someone else) for my nephew's wedding. She altered the form they give ie any convictions. For her she was lucky but dont risk your son going to the US by doing this. It is just now worth it for all of you.

Like me, some convictions get spent/ignored in the UK but not in some countries and the US is one of them. Sometimes we have to take responsibility of what we did and if that means your son cant go, you can. I am a parent as well and when it is a child of ours is convicted of DUI it would be natural to protect them, whatever age they are.

I hope you do go on holiday.



Yes, that is the case. I dont have any first hand experience regarding visa's, just came across the link and thought it may be of use. Hopefully someone who has been through this process can advise you further.

Good luck, and I hope you get your son a visa and you are all able to enjoy your holliday.
 
#6
Re: Getting a USA visa

im led to beleive that is does not automatically stop you entering the usa, though you have to go for an interview so it`s probably at their discretion
 
#7
Re: Getting a USA visa

We are still in the process of completing the visa application. Eventually we had to cancel the US holiday – due partly to other reasons, but we would not have had a hope of getting a visa in time anyway.

We found that a medical (which costs a further £150) is compulsory if you have a single drink-drive arrest or conviction within three calendar years, or two or more within any time period. It was not possible for my son to get the medical the same day as the visa interview (although some people are luckier with this). The results of the medical are sent to the US Embassy within five days, but you then have to wait until they contact you to let you know if you can continue with the application. It is now a month since the medical but apparently it can take eight weeks for the embassy to contact you.

The embassy website says that "a drunk driving conviction is not a statutory visa ineligibility" and there seem to be plenty of instances on the internet of other convicted people getting visas. But yes, it is the case that the US does not recognise that there is such a thing as "spent" convictions. As far as they are concerned, his drink-drive conviction lasts for life, so he will have to go through the whole process again each time he needs to renew his visa.

I will (eventually!) update you with the final result in case it is helpful to anyone else.
 
#8
Re: Getting a USA visa

hey everyone, even tho this is quite an old thread and the trip is cancelled, i thought i'd post this to help anyone else in the same situation.

Im a british citizen, i live in the UK and hold a Britsh passport.
I was banned for drink driving in march 2008. I received a 3 year ban, £300 fine, and a 3 month suspended sentence. I was supposed to pay the fine in 6 weeks but as of July 09 i still havent. Im planning on paying it pretty soon tho.

I went to the USA in April to see Wrestlemania in Texas.
I filled out the ESTA waiver form online, and it asks "have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime consisting moral turptitude" or something like that. Im almost sure that drunk driving isnt such a crime, but i never checked as I knew people who have been arrested,for it have just picked "no" to this question and went to the USA with no problems.

Anyway, I picked "No" to the "have you ever been arrested" question, my form got approved instantly, i flew to New York, and on arrival in NY, everyone was fingerprinted on computer scanners. I was damn nervous, but when they scanned me, checked my passport etc, they just waved me on through and said welcome. So on i went to Texas and never had any problems at any immigration checkpoints.

For something like a drunk-driving conviction, they dont check with your local police. If they had to do that for every person trying to get into america it would take years and cost a fortune. As far as i know, Police records arent shared unless requested, or if its a serious crime, and the only thing the fingerprint scanners would pick up on is if you were convicted of something related to terrorism or were on a no fly list.

Moral of the story - you are fine to go to USA as a tourist with a drunk driving conviction, i know friends who have done it and i have done it myself. However if you are in any doubt i would check what constitutes "moral turpitude" and make sure that its not on that list.
 
#9
Re: Getting a USA visa

I foolishly have done what I thought to be the `honest` thing and called the Embassy to double check if I could go without a visa. They said no, you need one. So after cancelling my USA holiday for July I attended the Embassy yesterday. I was in their three hours and then was finally told I had to make an appointment with their doctor based in London to check that I am healthy enough to travel. I managed to get an appointment later that day. They took blood tests and said they do three tests. As I spent the weekend in London on a `jolly` before going to the Embassy I doubt very much that I will pass the tests. To see the `Doctor` they charged me £135. Waiting in the Doctors it appeared that the Embassy had sent at least 8 people from the Embassy that morning. I know people who have ticked no on the visa waiver and got away with it. It makes me wonder if I did the right thing.
 
#10
Re: Getting a USA visa

Well, here is the final update.

After my son's medical, he was told that if his application was successful the Embassy would contact him to ask for his passport. When he heard nothing for over a month he rang the advice line and was told there was no way of checking on progress and he just had to wait; it could take several weeks. Just over a week ago (five months after his interview), he had his first contact from the Embassy: a "final reminder" through the post to say that his application would lapse unless he sent his passport in within two weeks. When he asked why no one had contacted him earlier as promised, he was told that he should have been sent an email (he wasn't). However, he sent the passport off (another £24.50 for the courier service) and has just received it back this morning. Good news is that it has the visa; bad news that the visa is only valid for one year.

My son started the application because we had a US holiday booked for last April, but only once the application was underway (and paid for) did it become apparent there was not enough time to get the visa, and the holiday had to be cancelled. However, he continued with the application (after all, it had already been paid for) as we understood that at least the visa was valid for 10 years. A one-year visa is really a complete waste of the time, money and effort that has gone into obtaining it.

Like the poster above, I now really wonder whether we did the right thing by going through the correct channels. I suppose we'd better try and fit in a US holiday before next September, because my son sure as hell won't be going through all that again to get another visa in the future!

I hope other people manage to get a slightly better result than we did.
 
#11
Re: Getting a USA visa

They only gave me a one year visa as well. It really makes me wonder if A, they are on a money making scheme or B, someone is taking a back hander. Another friend of mine has just come back from the US with the same conviction and ticked the `no` box and got in no problem. I go to the states almost every year, does anyone know if I will have to go through the same visa application process next time?
 
#12
Re: Getting a USA visa

I got back on the road in Feb but have only just noticed that the dvla have only issued my licence for two years. As I was only just over the limit can anyone explain why?
 

new_pedestrian

Well-known member
#13
Re: Getting a USA visa

I've always wanted to go to the USA, and I'm keen to find out exactly what the deal is with this. There seems to be a lot of contradictory information, even on the US government's own website, about what to do.

There's information on the US government website which says that drink driving is not considered a crime involving moral turpitude, and the question on the ESTA form asks specifically about moral turpitude. So I can truthfully answer "no" to that question, but the website also says elsewhere that I should apply for a visa anyway.

I want to do the right thing and be on the right side of the law, but it isn't clear what the right thing is!

Obviously I don't want to find myself being deported from the USA one day, but it would be nice to know exactly what the position is, since I also don't want to have to go up and down to London to sort out a visa if it isn't necesary.
 
#14
Re: Getting a USA visa

They only gave me a one year visa as well. It really makes me wonder if A, they are on a money making scheme or B, someone is taking a back hander. Another friend of mine has just come back from the US with the same conviction and ticked the `no` box and got in no problem. I go to the states almost every year, does anyone know if I will have to go through the same visa application process next time?
I think it's definitely a money-making scheme for someone! Yes, you will have to go through the whole sorry process again when your visa runs out. Up to three years from conviction you definitely have to have the medical as part of the process; after that you may be able to skip the medical and all the extra hassle and expense that involves, though it's entirely up to them whether or not they will let you do this. I've heard that the visa is valid for a longer period as time goes on, so for example if it's two years since your conviction you may get a two year visa instead of one year. It would be interesting to know if this is right.

I have also heard of people ticking "no" and getting in to the US with no problem but I would be a nervous wreck worrying about whether or not I was going to get sent back home on arrival. Of course, once you've started the visa application process that's no longer an option because they've got your passport number and it would be sure to flag up a potential problem with immigration.
 
#15
Re: Getting a USA visa

I've always wanted to go to the USA, and I'm keen to find out exactly what the deal is with this. There seems to be a lot of contradictory information, even on the US government's own website, about what to do.

There's information on the US government website which says that drink driving is not considered a crime involving moral turpitude, and the question on the ESTA form asks specifically about moral turpitude. So I can truthfully answer "no" to that question, but the website also says elsewhere that I should apply for a visa anyway.

I want to do the right thing and be on the right side of the law, but it isn't clear what the right thing is!

Obviously I don't want to find myself being deported from the USA one day, but it would be nice to know exactly what the position is, since I also don't want to have to go up and down to London to sort out a visa if it isn't necesary.
If you go through the Visa Waiver Wizard on the US Embassy website (http://www.usembassy.org.uk/cons_new/visa/visa_wizard.html) you will come to this question:

Arrest or Conviction? Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any reason in any country, even if the arrest did not lead to a conviction, or do you have a criminal record? Please note: the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to U.S. visa law.

The clarification of this question (my emphasis) states:
Travelers with minor traffic offenses that did not result in their arrest and/or conviction for the offense may travel visa free, provided they are otherwise qualified...Is the full extent of your history of legal violations limited solely to minor traffic offenses that did not result in your arrest and/or conviction?

If you have a DD conviction you cannot honestly say "yes" to this question. As soon as you press the "no" option you are told "not eligible for travel on the Visa Waiver program".

Of course, you always have the option to go through the Visa Waiver programme anyway and hope you won't be found out. Plenty of people seem to get away with this, by all accounts, and it will save you endless time, money and hassle. However, if you are caught you could be in serious trouble and end up being deported as soon as you arrive. It could also make it very hard to ever get back in to the States in future. I have no idea of the likelihood of you being found out, but the worry of it would just not be worth it as far as I'm concerned. You may be made of sterner stuff!
 
#16
Re: Getting a USA visa

What I don't understand is the following:

The question on the Visa Waiver Form (and the actual US law) makes you inadmissable if you have committed a crime of 'Moral Turpitude'.

The foriegn affairs manual (provided here: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86942.pdf) states that Drink Driving is not a crime of moral turpitude.

Why then are the embassies telling people that they need to apply for a visa?
 
#17
Re: Getting a USA visa

My Question:

Given that the Foriegn Affairs Manual (here:http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86942.pdf) states that drunk driving is not a crime of moral turpitude, and the ESTA from only asks about crimes of moral turpitude, does that mean that travellers who have had a single conviction for a drunk driving offence are still eligable to travel under the Visa Waiver Programme? There is a lot of conflicting information available on this subject.

US Customs Answer:
Thank you for contacting Customs and Border Protection's Customer Info Center. In reference to your question, CBP's information on visitors with drunk driving offenses are rather consistent. As stated on our web site at https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/736, "The U.S. does not deny entry to persons with a "Driving Under the Influence" (DUI) conviction. " It further states that multiple convictions for this and/or other misdemeanors could deem a traveler inadmissible into the US. Since, as you pointed out, a drunk driving offense is not a crime of moral turpitude, it should not be included in your ESTA application.
 
#18
Re: Getting a USA visa

If I have already given my details to the us embassy in London for a drink driving conviction back in 2006 (banned for 18months) but not continued with the application, do you think they would stop me at the UK airport from boarding the plane? Even though Washington DC have emailed me back with reassurance that my conviction is not an offence of 'moral turpitude' and would not deny me entry to the us?
Many thanks =o)
 
#19
Re: Getting a USA visa

We have just returned from our visit to the US (with visa!). As soon as the immigration official saw my son's visa he asked "Drink driving?" - he was obviously familiar with this as being a common reason to have a visa. The US Embassy are absolutely clear on anyone who has ever being arrested needing a visa, so the US Customs answer quoted above seems very contradictory.

HoppyPoppy, I wouldn't like to risk travelling if you have already given the embassy your passport details - perhaps you could get a more definitive answer from them? You say "Washington DC have emailed me back with reassurance that my conviction is not an offence of 'moral turpitude' and would not deny me entry to the us": not denying you entry is not the same as saying that you would not need a visa. I don't think anyone will stop you boarding the plane in the UK, it is once you arrive in the US that you might have problems. If you could get a categorical assurance in writing that you are eligible to enter the US under the visa waiver scheme I think you could travel more happily, as then you could wave it under the nose of the immigration official if it becomes necessary!
 
Buy CDT Test
Top