We hear about the DWI consequences, such as license revocation, fines, jail time, higher insurance rates, and a criminal record that can result in difficulty getting a job or finding a place to live. What some may not realize is that there is another consequences and that consequence is difficulty crossing the border to Canada.
Every year, the Canadian Border Patrol turns away thousands of visitors because of their criminal records. This scenario is seen again and again at ferry terminals, airports, and Canadian checkpoints.
Canadian law says that a person with a Minnesota DWI can be declared an “inadmissible person,” which means they will be prohibited from crossing the border because they have been convicted of the crime.
Even having your driver’s license revoked under Minnesota law could cause a person to be inadmissible even if the criminal conviction is absent. The conviction can be absent if a person’s license was revoked because they refused to take a field sobriety test. Test refusal is considered a crime regardless of whether or not a person is drunk and the license revocation alone can be cause to not grant admission into Canada.
Even if the criminal charge for test refusal was dismissed in exchange to a reckless driving plea, entry can be denied.
Outstanding warrants and pending charges can also result in “inadmissible” status.
If an individual enters Canada while they are inadmissible, then it is considered a crime. This can result in arrest, imprisonment, or deportation.
Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the U.S. and Canada have developed an agreement for broad reciprocal access to each country by their citizens. Both can access each others’ court record and driver’s license databases. This means if there are any convictions for DWI or any other criminal offense, the Canadian Border Agent will discover it. They may even be able to see expunged charges, pending charges, and outstanding warrants on a Minnesota record.
The twist, however, is if ten years have passed since the last charge or conviction, including license suspension and probation discharge. If there are no other offenses on the criminal record, the individual may be given rehabilitation status and the ability to enter Canada.
Although a border agent can verify the status, it is best to have a Minneapolis DWI attorney contact the Canadian consulate before the trip to see if a background check or supporting documentation will be needed before attempting to enter Canada.
If only five years has passed since the last conviction or charge or there are two or more offenses on the criminal record, he or she can apply for rehabilitation status. Again, it is ideal to involve an attorney because it involves the submission of an application to the Canadian Immigration Board. There is also a nonrefundable fee that must be included with this application and it can take up to one year to find out whether or not access may be granted.
If less than five years have passed, the only other option to legally enter Canada is through a Temporary Resident permit (TMP), which allows one-time entry. This permit does not allow for re-entry. The TRP can be applied for at the border, but it may not be approved. The passport control officer present on-site may not have all of the information they require to make a decision. This is why it is best to contact the Canadian Consulate way in advance before making the drive.