Crossing the US/Canadian Border with a DUI Offense
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that having a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction on your criminal record will negatively affect your life in many ways. It can affect your ability to find a job, get insurance, and even rent an apartment. However, many people don’t usually consider how a DUI affects their ability to travel. Depending on where you are headed, you may be denied access to the country you are planning on entering. Keep reading to find out how a DUI conviction can affect your ability to cross the American/Canadian border.
Crossing into the U.S with a DUI
One thing many people don’t always consider when traveling with a criminal record is if they can cross the border with certain offenses on their record. A U.S. Border Guard has a great deal of discretion when deciding whether to allow or deny entry to anyone.
This begs the question: if you have a DUI conviction on your criminal record, how likely is it that you can cross the American/Canadian border? Most Canadians who have a DUI conviction on their criminal record can usually enter the USA without needing a waiver. But just because it doesn’t happen often doesn’t mean it can never happen, as the final decision to allow you entry rests with the U.S. Border Guard who deals with you.
Moreover, having other criminal charges on your record in addition to a DUI conviction reduces your chances of being allowed entry into the USA without U.S. Travel Waiver. If you intend to enter the USA but have another conviction on your record, it is best to call an American immigration lawyer or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office well in advance of travelling to determine if you need a waiver or not. The waiver application process can be lengthy (up to a year) and requires a fee of $585.00 US per application.
Another option that you have is to get a record suspension on your DUI. Many people are unaware that they can remove a DUI from their record. A record suspension for a DUI can’t be done until at least five years after your sentence has ended and all fines, etc. have been paid. As well, you also must not get another DUI during that period. It’s recommended to start your application for a record suspension as soon as you can because the process can take 12-20 months, and you will need to make sure that have prepared all the necessary paperwork. You can be denied a record suspension; hiring a criminal defense lawyer is your best option when applying for one, as your lawyer will not only help make the process easier but it will also maximize your chances of getting the results you need.
Crossing the Canadian Border with a DUI
While Canadians usually do not have difficulties crossing into the USA with a DUI, it may be a surprise to many Americans that Canada takes DUI offenses very seriously and that entering Canada can be difficult for American travellers with DUI convictions.
It doesn’t matter if you are driving, are a passenger in another person’s car or are taking public transit (such as a bus or a ferry) to enter Canada, you may be denied entry to Canada if you are an American with a DUI conviction. It does not matter if your DUI offense was classified as a felony or misdemeanor. It also does not matter if you are trying to enter Canada for a special event. In fact, the former American President George W. Bush had to get a waiver to enter Canada because of his DUI offense in Maine in 1976. If you are planning to visit Canada, it is best to call the Canada Border Services Agency ahead of time to determine if you need a special waiver or not.
What You Shouldn’t Do When Crossing the Border with a DUI
There are a few things that you shouldn’t do when trying to cross the American/Canadian border with a DUI conviction of your criminal record. First, don’t lie. American and Canadian Border Guards have access to each other’s police databases and if they catch you lying or misrepresenting your criminal record, they can immediately bar your from entry for that reason alone.
Another thing you should not do if you have been denied entry is try to cross again at another point of entry on the same day. While you might think that you’ll have a better chance with another Border Guard, their computer databases are usually updated immediately and will be visible at all ports of entry. If you are caught trying to evade the system, you may be banned from crossing the American/Canadian border for the rest of your life.
Lastly, if you are traveling with others and they know that you have a DUI, they could also be deemed inadmissible if they are aware of your record and your intent to hide it. They could even face criminal charges for helping you hide it. It is in everyone’s best interest to be honest and follow the laws of the country they are travelling to.