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DUI & Global Entry: Can a Past Mistake Affect Travel Plans?

A driving under the influence (“DUI”) conviction may disqualify a person from being approved for Global Entry, which is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. The final decision regarding whether the individual is allowed entry depends on various factors, including the nature and recency of the offense, overall criminal history, and the information provided during the application and interview process.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What is Global Entry?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Global Entry, a program managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), offers expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers entering the United States [1]. Members benefit from faster entry using Global Entry kiosks available at select airports.

At airports, program members proceed to the Global Entry lanes where processing technology will be used to expedite the members by capturing a photo to verify their membership. Once the photo has been captured, the member will receive on-screen instructions and proceed to a CBP officer who will confirm that you have successfully completed the process – U.S. Department of Homeland Security

To enroll in Global Entry, travelers must undergo a thorough application process, including a detailed background check and an in-person interview. Only those who pass this rigorous screening are approved for membership, ensuring that all participants are considered low-risk travelers.

DUI and Global Entry

When a person is arrested for DUI, the arrest record is reported to the Department of Justice, which then enters this information into national databases. If the individual is convicted of the DUI offense, the conviction will appear on their criminal record, potentially disqualifying them from Global Entry eligibility.

If the criminal charges were dismissed or if no case was ever filed, the DUI arrest may still be on the person’s criminal record that is communicated to the national databases. The DUI arrest itself could disqualify an applicant from global entry consideration.

Applicants who are denied may need to appeal the decision, providing evidence that the DUI arrest did not lead to a conviction or criminal charges, or presenting other reasons why their application should be approved.

Which Other Crimes Disqualify You From Global Entry?

According to National Terrorism Advisory System, a conviction for any of the following felonies can disqualify an applicant from eligibility if the conviction, guilty plea (including ‘no contest’), incompetence to stand trial, or not guilty by reason of insanity occurred within seven years of the application date [2].

Additionally, if the applicant was released from incarceration after a conviction within five years of the application date, they may also be disqualified.

  • Firearms and Weapons Violations: Unlawful possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase, distribution, receipt, transfer, shipping, transport, delivery, import, export, or dealing in firearms or other weapons. This includes firearms as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3) or 26 U.S.C. 5845(a), or items on the U.S. Munitions Import List at 27 CFR 447.21.
  • Extortion.
  • Dishonesty, Fraud, or Misrepresentation: This includes identity fraud and money laundering, particularly when related to crimes listed in Parts A or B (excluding welfare fraud and passing bad checks).
  • Bribery.
  • Smuggling.
  • Immigration Violations.
  • Drug-Related Offenses: Distribution, possession with intent to distribute, or importation of controlled substances.
  • Arson.
  • Kidnapping or Hostage Taking.
  • Rape or Aggravated Sexual Abuse.
  • Assault with Intent to Kill.
  • Robbery.
  • Fraudulent Entry into a Seaport: As described in 18 U.S.C. 1036, or comparable state law.
  • Racketeering: Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) under 18 U.S.C. 1961, et seq., or comparable state law, other than permanently disqualifying offenses.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter.
  • Conspiracy or Attempt: Involvement in conspiracy or attempts to commit any of the above crimes.

These felonies are serious offenses and can significantly impact an applicant’s eligibility for programs requiring a clean record. Understanding these disqualifications can help applicants assess their eligibility before applying.

How Strict is Global Entry?

Your Global Entry application may be denied if you:

  • Provide False or Incomplete Information: Submitting inaccurate or incomplete details on your application can lead to disqualification.
  • Criminal Convictions: Having any criminal conviction or pending charges, including outstanding warrants, can prevent approval.
  • Customs, Immigration, or Agriculture Violations: Any violation of these regulations or laws in any country can result in denial.
  • Subject of an Investigation: Being under investigation by federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies can disqualify you.
  • Inadmissibility to the United States: If you are deemed inadmissible under immigration regulations, including those with approved waivers or parole documentation, you will not qualify.
  • Unable to Satisfy Low-Risk Status: Failing to convince CBP of your low-risk status or failing to meet other program requirements can lead to rejection.

Understanding these disqualification factors can help ensure that you meet all necessary criteria before applying for Global Entry.

Global Entry and Privacy

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the information collected through the online Global Entry application is stored in the Global Enrollment System (GES), which is used for CBP’s trusted traveler programs [3]. CBP can share applicants’ personal information, including fingerprint biometrics, with other government and law enforcement agencies.

CBP stores applicants’ information in two separate systems of records: “personal information” is stored in the GES, and “applicant biometrics” are stored in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Automated Biometric Identification System, or IDENT.

In 2006, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) submitted comments to CBP regarding the GES system, expressing concerns about significant privacy and security issues. EPIC urged CBP to narrow its exemptions from the Privacy Act of 1974. The GES system is exempt from several key fair information practices, including allowing individuals to access their personal information, permitting corrections and amendments to personal data, and ensuring the reliability of personal information for its intended use.

By incorporating Global Entry applicants’ data into the GES system, CBP is expanding a system that has been criticized for its flaws and for not adequately protecting individuals’ privacy. These privacy concerns highlight the importance of balancing security measures with the protection of personal information for applicants.

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