Traveling to Canada After a DWI

Among the several collateral consequences that come from a DWI, one of the more surprising ones – and one that often doesn’t become an issue until it’s too late – is that a DWI conviction can bar entry into Canada.

Whenever you travel to Canada (even if your flight is just connecting in Canada), Canadian immigration officials conduct an examination to determine your eligibility. It’s a brief interview, during which your criminal background may come up. If you have been convicted of a DWI, Reckless Driving, Assault, Theft, or Obstruction of Legal Process (among other crimes), you are deemed inadmissible to enter the country. The result is you will be denied entry or detained for a period of time.

What’s key to know is that only a conviction of this offense makes you inadmissible. If the matter was resolved favorably or involved a plea to an offense that shouldn’t bar admissibility, you should keep copies of the court records with you when traveling to prove your eligibility to enter the country. And if you are charged with an offense and it hasn’t been resolved, it may be wise to have proof as to the current status of the case – this may be merely a matter of getting a letter from your attorney.

If you have been convicted of a DWI – for instance – the only way you may legally enter Canada is to apply for criminal rehabilitation (forms can be found through a simple google search). The application process is burdensome and can take in excess of one-year – so plan ahead. And you cannot apply for the rehabilitation until 5 years has lapsed since completing the sentence and no other disqualifying convictions have occurred. This 5-year waiting period begins when probation ends or when the loss of license from the DWI ends (whichever is longer). And all fines and fees to the courts must be paid in full.

If the disqualifying offense is more than 10 years old and you have not been convicted of another disqualifying offense in the interim, you are deemed rehabilitated and do not need to apply for rehabilitation. This deemed rehabilitated status is only reserved for those that have only one offense and that offense was not a felony.

Being banned from entering Canada is another collateral consequence that few realize exists. But, depending on the person, this may be a critical piece of information to know when deciding how to proceed with your case. Hiring a Minnesota DWI defense attorney that understands this collateral consequence and how to navigate around it may be critical to your successful defense.