Summertime is vacation time for us Michiganders! That season when families head for the beach, the barbeque, and in some cases, the border. But if you are planning on travelling into Canada and you happen to have a DUI on your record, slow down. Here are a few things you need to know.
Canadian officials consider drunk driving to be a very serious offense. For that reason, there is a good chance that if you have a DUI, OWI or any kind of drunk driving offense on your record, they won’t allow you to cross the border into Canada. This is also true if you are entering the country as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.
People are turned away at the Canadian border every day for ‘criminal inadmissibility’ which means that due to a criminal history, you are not allowed to be admitted to the country. Even if your criminal history is no more than a misdemeanor and something that many people would not consider “serious”, you may still not be allowed to cross the Canadian border.
This is because, according to Canada’s Health and Security regulations, any foreigners with criminal records may be turned away at the border. In addition, Canadian Border Police have complete discretion to allow or deny entry to anybody at any time. But don’t lose hope! If you have your heart set on going to Canada, and you have a drunk driving conviction on your record, there are still perfectly legal ways for you to get into the country. For example…
If it has been more than five years since your DUI, it is no longer considered to be an issue by Canadian authorities and you will be able to cross the border as if it never happened. If however, it hasn’t been a full five years since your most recent DUI conviction, you may apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). A Temporary Resident Permit allows an individual who would otherwise have been deemed inadmissible, to enter for a specific purpose.
However, please know that when you apply for a TRP, you will be required to specify exactly why you want to enter Canada. Your reasons will have to be compelling. Reasons like “vacation” or “because I want to” aren’t going to cut it. In most cases, a work related reason is usually considered sufficient.
If the Canadian Immigration Authorities grant you a TRP despite your drunk driving record, you will be able to enter the country for as long as your permit is valid. But not everyone is granted a TRP when they apply for one.
So if you are hoping to go to Canada, and you have some kind of alcohol related offense on your record, our suggestion would be to contact an immigration attorney first. They should be able to help you determine whether or not your reasons are compelling enough, and how to go about applying for a TRP.