Can a Misdemeanor DWI Conviction Prevent Entry into Canada?

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 or even being dropped by your car Insurance company, having your vehicle forfeited or taken away by the police, etc.  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. You see in Canada, a first-time Misdemeanor DWI in the 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/tourism.

There is, however, good news.  With a skilled, experienced, and aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney, you can explore the alternatives for preventing yourself from being BANNED from Canada–alternatives including but limited to taking your case to trial.  I have 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 into dismissing 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,  a skilled, experienced, and Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney can help him/her to 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 5 years after the completion of your sentence (NOT 5 years after you were sentenced). That means 5 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, probation, etc.  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.

Given the complexity, long waiting periods, and application fees and attorneys fees involved in trying to get relief from a ban on traveling 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 Minnesota 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.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.
Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.