DWI and Canada, New Rules May Not Help All With DWI Convictions

Previously in this space, we have discussed a number of the direct and indirect consequences of a DWI conviction in Minnesota. State laws generally govern many consequences, including sentencing issues and the impact a DWI arrest can have on a driver’s privilege to drive. However, a Minnesota DWI and Canada do Not mix well.

One of the harsh consequences of the state DWI and implied consent laws relate to the driver’s license revocation, which can occur without a conviction on a DWI charge. In some cases, the time line to challenge an implied consent loss of license runs out before a person ever appears in court on the DWI citation. Other so-called “collateral consequences” can arise in the areas of work, and even travel into Canada. A DWI and Canada don’t mix, as tourists entering Candada with a DWI on their records find out when they are turned away at the border.

Many companies use background checks to screen potential employees. A DWI conviction can be the breaking point for many job seekers. But what about travel? We recently discussed the difficulties people have in entering Canada with a DWI conviction on their record.

Many Minnesotans need to travel across the Northern border on business. Others may wish to go to Canada on a fishing trip, or some other form of vacation. It has been a harsh consequence of a DWI conviction for many to be stopped at the border and kept out of Canada. As a result, the tourism industry in Canada has suffered. So, Canada says that beginning March 1, 2012, the rules for admissibility may change.

The change, however, is not necessarily a change in the law. The border agent may just have more discretion when determining admissibility into our Northern neighbor, according to a report in the Fort Francis Times.

Generally, Canada says it will relax the turn back rule for convictions of offenses for which a defendant served less than six months in jail. But the relaxed rule appears to primarily rely on the discretion of the border agent.

Minneapolis DWI defense lawyers know that it is important to discuss potential DWI allegations with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. Challenging DWI allegations may result in keeping the issue off a person’s permanent record in the first place. Although the relaxed rule in Canada may improve chances for entry into Canada for some with a prior DWI conviction, the relaxed rule obviously will not apply to all prior DWIs.

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