Over the past year, it hasn’t been easy to cross the border from the United States to Canada. Travel has been restricted for nonessential reasons since the outbreak of COVID-19.
But if you have been convicted of a DUI, you might have difficulty crossing the border for another reason. Canada takes a harsh stance on impaired driving convictions, and often denies entry to the country to those with a criminal record. Even if you are pending trial, you may still be turned away at the border.
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to crossing the border. If you’re denied entry at one location, don’t try again at another—all border officials have access to a database with your information on file. Lying about your record could be considered a criminal offence.
Is it possible to enter Canada if you have a DUI? We’re going to tell you what you can do to gain access:
Applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
If you plan to travel to Canada for a limited time, you might be interested in a temporary permit.
The permissions that a TRP grants are restricted. In most cases, you can only travel to Canada for a limited number of reasons with a TRP. The permit itself only lasts so long; once it expires, you’ll need to reapply for a new one.
Even if you are technically inadmissible to the country, a TRP is a document that grants you access for specific purposes. The application process is extensive and can take months. If you obtain the permit in time, there is no guarantee that it will give you access into Canada.
Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation (CR)
Were you charged with a DUI over 5 years ago? Your mistakes shouldn’t follow you forever. 5 years after your criminal charges, you can submit a formal application for criminal rehabilitation. It permanently removes the “inadmissible” attribute from your file. If your application is approved, you can gain entry to Canada.
However, a recent change in legislation made this process more complicated. Before 2018, you would automatically gain eligibility in 10 years. Now, those with DUIs are no longer automatically deemed rehabilitated in Canada after 10 years.
If you were charged before 2018, you could be grandfathered in under the old legislation, but it’s best to consult a criminal lawyer to find out.
Misdemeanors or Felonies?
Depending on the severity of your crime, you may find that crossing the border is more or less difficult. In the U.S, crimes are categorized as misdemeanors (less severe) or felonies (more severe). Misdemeanors can be compared to summary offences in Canada, while felonies are akin to indictable offences.
You’ll have less trouble crossing the border if you were previously convicted of a summary offence than an indictable one, but it will be at the discretion of the border official.
If you are seeking entry to Canada, we recommend acquiring a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation form first. Both these forms increase the likelihood that you can cross the border. We suggest planning months in advance so that you have time to submit these applications before your trip to Canada.
Are you facing a potential DUI charge? A Winnipeg DUI lawyer can help you create a compelling argument for your case and protect your rights. Contact the law offices of Brodsky Amy & Gould today.