Due to our close proximity to Canada, many North Dakotans and Minnesotans enjoy taking a trip across the border to Canada for a variety of reasons. But, if you have plead guilty or been found guilty of Driving Under the Influence on one or more occasions, you may not be allowed to enter Canada. Furthermore (and I promise I’m not trying to scare you) but it is possible that even if you have been found not guilty, the charges have been plead down, or the charges are pending, you still may be excluded from entry to the Great White North.
This is because DUI/DWI constitutes a “serious” offense in Canada. Typically, if you have one misdemeanor DUI conviction, you are eligible to enter into Canada after ten (10) years from the date your sentence was imposed. However, if you have more than one conviction, it is highly likely that you will never be deemed “rehabilitated” unless you ask the Canadian government to let you in. So, life can get rather difficult for you if you want to get into Canada and you have been caught drinking and driving.
Many people have called in hoping that it is possible to cure this issue by having their DUI conviction expunged. Unfortunately, expungement of DUIs in North Dakota, and DWIs in Minnesota is not usually a viable option and is nearly impossible, if not impossible, with very small exceptions (e.g. expungement may be possible if you were arrested for violation of your constitutional rights in North Dakota). With that being said, fear not, you have options.
You can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). Depending on how good of an application you have, Canada may let you come and go for up to three years with a TRP. This is how a lot of American professional athletes with a criminal conviction usually get into Canada. It is important if you know you are heading to Canada, and you know your DUI conviction may hinder that trip, that you apply for this permit sooner rather than later to ensure you have no hiccups and it gets approved prior to your trip. Here is a link to the Canadian Government’s website on how to apply for a TRP.
You can file for Criminal Rehabilitation. This, barring any new criminal charges, is a more permanent resolution to the issue, whether you have one DUI conviction or multiple. You may apply to be rehabilitated after five (5) years after the date of sentencing. There are many nuances to applying for Criminal Rehabilitation, and here is a link with more detailed information on when you are eligible, and how to apply. It may be best to speak with the Canadian Consulate nearest you for assistance on the matter. The nearest one to North Dakota and Minnesota is in Minneapolis.
Generally, these are your two options in order to get into Canada without any hiccups after a DUI conviction. This is a brief rundown of the process, and if you would like to read a more detailed piece not written by the Canadian government, you can read more about everything here. If you have been convicted or have a pending DUI/DWI charge, and enjoy making a trip up to Winnipeg for your yearly Poutine fix, it is important that you understand the ramifications that the DUI has on your ability to get across the border. Sure, you can blame Canada, but in the end, you getting turned away at the border will make you feel like a real Hoser.
If you have a criminal issue, including a DUI, please do not hesitate to call SW&L Attorneys in Fargo, North Dakota at 701-297-2890. This blog is general information regarding this issue and is not intended to be an in-depth review of this rather complex legal issue. Additionally, I am not licensed to practice law in Canada, and this is not intended to infer or suggest that I am.