A DWI conviction may have many “collateral” or hidden consequences. These hidden consequences of a DWI can include losing your job, having your driver’s license revoked, getting higher insurance rates, being dropped by your car insurance company, having your vehicle forfeited or taken away by the police and many others. In the last few years, a new hidden consequence of getting a DWI has been hitting many people — especially in Minnesota and other Northern or Midwestern states that are close to Canada: If you have a DWI on your record, you may be denied entry into Canada, regardless of whether you are going fishing in Canada or there for an important business trip, etc. In Canada, a first-time misdemeanor DWI in the United States is considered a felony! And, of course, Canada, like the U.S. and other countries, does not allow people convicted of a felony in other countries to enter into Canada — whether for business or pleasure.
There is, however, good news. With a skilled, experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney like Max A. Keller of Keller Law Offices, you can explore the alternatives to being BANNED from entry to Canada — alternatives including but not limited to taking your case to trial. Mr. Keller has engineered many alternative dispositions to keep his clients’ ability to go to Canada intact, including fighting the driver’s license revocation and the criminal DWI cases aggressively, filing pre-trial motions to suppress or throw out the evidence and dismiss the charges, taking the case to trial, getting a stay of adjudication for his client so the offense does not go on her record, and possibly convincing the prosecutor to dismiss the criminal DWI charge in favor of the driver waiving the implied consent challenge to preserve admissibility to Canada.
If a person is convicted of DWI, Mr. Keller can help him or her fill out forms to submit to the Canadian government to get a waiver or “pardon” from the ban to entry in Canada. If you are not granted a waiver or “pardon,” then you may not enter Canada for five years after the completion of your sentence (NOT five years after you were sentenced) — that means five years after you get off probation. You will need to bring certified copies of your court papers with you to the border to prove that you have completed all the conditions of your sentence, including fines, alcohol classes and probation. A person barred from Canada because of criminal convictions can also apply for a temporary resident permit. All of these forms of relief (a pardon, temporary resident permit, etc.) require high application fees and a long waiting period to see if they are approved or not. More information is available from Canada’s Immigration Bureau. A list of all reasons a person may be inadmissible to Canada, including but not limited to having a DWI or other criminal conviction on ones’ record, is available here.
Given the complexity, long waiting periods, application fees and attorney fees involved in trying to get relief from a ban on travelling to Canada because of a DWI conviction in Minnesota or elsewhere in the U.S., the best thing to do is to hire an experienced DWI defense attorney to help you keep a DWI criminal conviction off your record and preserve your ability to go to Canada whenever you want.