Canada to Ease Rules Allowing Entry for Americans with DWI Convictions

March 8th, 2012

Americans with DWI convictions in the last 10 years are generally denied entry to Canada. U.S. citizens or permanent residents who wish to enter Canada have to undergo routine screening which includes answering the question “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Individuals convicted of driving while impaired in the U.S. may be denied entry to Canada even if their DWI conviction didn’t involve any collision or any other criminal violations.

Providing the authorities with false answers will most likely not work due to the increased cooperation between the U.S. and Canada as a part of their stricter security measures after 9/11. Any border agent can have access to Americans’ criminal records, and vice versa.

A Closer Look at Canadian and American DWIs

Any type of DWI offense committed in the U.S. is equivalent to an impaired driving offense in Canada. Any conviction related to impaired driving, even if it’s only a misdemeanor conviction, is considered by Canadian law as a serious crime.

In recent years, Minnesotans and thousands of other Americans have been dismayed by Canada’s tightened border security. A single misdemeanor DWI offense in the U.S. is considered as felony DUI offense in Canada. For Americans, this disparity of levels of drunk driving violations between Canadian and American laws has been a big issue.

Canada Entry Restrictions Soon to Loosen Up

The good news for Americans is that Canadian border officials will soon loosen up entry restrictions after many years of refusing Americans with DWIs and other convictions from entering Canada. Set to take effect March 1, this move is developed to keep the border officials from refusing entry of American anglers, hunters, and such other tourists who have one DWI conviction or any other misdemeanor conviction on record. The changes, however, are not applicable to individuals with several convictions or those who have committed more serious crimes.

Border Restrictions Have Cost Canada Millions

According to Canadian tourism industry officials, the increase in border restrictions caused by refusal of entry at the border resulted in losing millions of dollars in revenue for Canada.

It’s a common scenario at the border that an entire group seeking legal entry to Canada calls off the trip because border officials reject one member of the group. Regional tourist council officials call this type of group a $6,000 vehicle, and if one member gets rejected, the entire group goes straight home. Over the years, the border restrictions have cost millions of dollars in Northwestern Ontario alone. People who are not supposed to be turned away are denied entry due to a minor indiscretion several years ago.

Canada Welcomes Americans with One DWI

A new policy developed by Citizenship and Immigrations Canada (CIC) as a result of continued pressure from the Canadian tourism industry, allows individuals with a single minor conviction to obtain a free Temporary Resident Permit for entering Canada starting March 1. This process used to be lengthy and a costly one. Americans with prior convictions, however, need to permanently clear their record by going through a rehabilitation process. Once they hold a TRP, they will not be rejected at the border.

Whether the TRP will give Americans one free pass to Canada or a pass for a certain time period is an unanswered question that the Canadian government is yet to release. A report in Star Tribune says that the new policy aims to facilitate entry of Americans currently inadmissible to Canada for a certain violation, such as where the individual seeking entry into Canada has not served a jail time, and there’s no evidence of repeat behavior. Apparently, the new policy is applicable to a DWI conviction provided that there are no other convictions on the individuals’ record.

Just One More Reason You Need a Good DWI Lawyer

If you travel to Canada to visit family, to go on vacation or for business then being convicted of DWI is going to be an issue. To ensure you have the best possible chance of minimizing the damage of your DWI charge you need the help of an experienced DWI lawyer in Minnesota. Douglas Kans has been defending DWI cases for the past 17 years…  you can reach him by calling Kans Law Firm at (952) 835-6314 for a free case consultation.

 

 

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