Entering Canada with years old DUI conviction

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Bowhuntin's picture
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Entering Canada with years old DUI conviction

Last spring I was involved in a somewhat heated debate over the legalities of entering Canada if previously charged with DUI in the states. One of those who didn't seem to believe my posts was NEB Greg. This article was in the Grand Forks Herald today. Maybe the reporter who wrote the article doesn't know what he's talking about either? Note some of these offenses were 20+ years earlier, in direct contradiction to what others posted last spring saying DUI dropped off after a couple years.

BORDER ISSUES: Canadian crime views keep some Americans out
Associated Press
Published Tuesday, January 01, 2008

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. - Another side effect of the post-9/11 security mindset: Americans who used to enter Canada with a wave and a few friendly questions are finding themselves stopped cold by their youthful indiscretions.

For some time, a drunken driving conviction was enough to deem a foreigner ?inadmissible? because the crime is a felony in Canada. But until recently, experts say border agents were less likely to find out about a foreigner's drunken driving record, either because they didn't ask or because they didn't have extensive criminal history databases to check.

Roseville man's story
It's affected people such as Bob Hohman, a 54-year-old computer network security analyst from Roseville, Minn.

After two drunken driving offenses in the 1970s, Hohman said he quit drinking. He had no qualms about disclosing the convictions in 2004 on a questionnaire at the Canadian border station in Walhalla, N.D., where he and his brother tried to cross on the way to an annual goose hunt.

?When the border agent saw these entries, he informed me that I would not be allowed to enter Canada,? Hohman said. ?I was kind of astonished. I was like, ?C'mon, all of a sudden, I'm not worthy to be in your country?'"

Undeterred, Hohman said he and his brother drove to a different border crossing, didn't mention his record and crossed ?without further incident.?

Others who get tripped don't press ahead.

Some fishing parties who have had a member denied entry into Canada have wound up at the Thunderbird Lodge on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake, said Mary Jane Haanen, co-owner of the lodge.

?You hate to benefit from the misfortune of a business in Canada,? Haanen said. ?But at least we've been able to help them salvage their trip.?

Lucy Perillo is president of Canada Border Crossing Services, a Winnipeg-based company that helps foreigners confront paperwork required to get permission to enter Canada with even a minor criminal record.

?The number being denied (entry) is increasing, and it's directly related to more questions being asked,? Perillo said. ?If you have a DUI or you wrote some bad checks or shoplifted or smoked some pot, you're probably going to need a (special) permit to come into Canada.?

View from Canada
The Canadian government denies claims it is turning away more Americans.

?We haven't seen an increase in individuals found inadmissible,? said Derek Mellon, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, who didn't provide statistics supporting his statement.

?The requirements to enter the country have not changed,? Mellon said. ?We continue to welcome millions of American travelers every year to our country.?

As part of a 2003 agreement known as the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration, Canada and the United States are developing shared databases of criminal history data on each other's citizens, in the name of anti-terrorism.

Canadian immigration officials say would-be visitors with minor records can be provisionally admitted. That's done by paying about $200 in U.S. money for a temporary permit or paying the same amount and following a months-long process to ?rehabilitate? their record permanently.

Randy Kutter, Princeton, Minn., said he's gone down that road - only to find frustration.

He had drunken driving offenses in 1981 and 1986 and was denied entry in fall 2005, while trying to cross into Canada at Baudette, Minn., on a fishing trip.

To get in, he said he paid about $240 for a one-time visitors permit and then put down more money later to start rehabilitating his record - a process requiring copies of the original charging documents.

?I then spent two days running around to different courthouses and found there were no records left,? Kutter said. ?I eventually gave up.?

Kutter added, ?Now, I do not admit to being arrested when I cross the border, but it is very stressful.?

eyexer's picture
eyexer
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If the DUI is over 7 years old, I wouldn't even mention it. My understanding is records for DUI aren't even in that system more than 7 years ago. Basically what happens is that when you pull up to the port, the license plate number is ran. If the driver of the vehicle is the owner and it doesn't flag when they run the plate, 9 times out of 10 they just ask you the basic questions and your on your way. Occasionally they will pull everybody in the vehicle and run their license. Like I said, non-felony infractions are usually gone in 7 years here so there is nothing to pull up on the computer if it's over 7 years. The $240 for a one time permit is true as far as I know. However, I also understand that just because you pay the $240 and apply for the one time permit, they can deny you entry and you forfeit the $240. I live very close to the canadian border and have been through there numerous times since 2003 and have never even had to show my ID going into canada. Getting back into the U.S. is another thing.

 

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I heard too that it is a life long deal.

We must not care in the US. if Canadians have a DUI, as those Canadians come here and party like rock stars.. and I am sure some of those have been busted before???

Bowhuntin's picture
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eyexer,
I wouldn't volunteer the information either, but if asked you'd best be truthful as they aren't real keen on intentionally misrepresenting your arrest history. To not answer each question fully and truthfully will get you more trouble than you bargained for.

When you pull up they run the plates and it tells them the info you listed, along with the history of the vehicle and the registered owners other border crossings.

While you may be right that a DUI drops off for insurance purposes arrest records aren't routinely destroyed after a set amount of years to my knowledge. The record of the arrest and conviction is "in the system" and there for them to see.

You are also right that paying the $240.00 doesn't automatically grant you a free pass to the Queens land.

I also cross the border frequently and while I agree with you it's harder to get back into the states than into Canada, increasingly they are asking for an official form of identification, especially when children are in the vehicle.

I personally know of several trips that were ruined because one person had a minor arrest on their record and the entire group was turned away. It happens all the time, and anyone thinking of a trip to Canada needs to be aware of it.

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Bowhuntin is absolutely correct. Don't lie about any direct question. You don't know what information they might have in front of them. If you lie to gain entry into the country, you have just violated the law. You stand a very good chance of getting arrested on the spot and going directly to jail. Everything that happens from then on will be according to Canadian law. Heck, if it's a weekend, you might even get to spend a few days in jail before you go in fron of a magistrate. Lie at your own risk.

FYI, DUI is a felony in Canada. That is why they take this so seriously.

eyexer's picture
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I know a party of eight that entered canada last fall. Four of the eight had DUI's of 7 years old or more. When asked about it they told no. The background check showed nothing so off they went. Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just telling you what I know, if you don't like my info, don't use it and stay home from Canada. I could really care less if they let us in or not, I don't drink so it's not going to be an issue for me.

 

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eyexer,
I'm not going to get into a long argument about this. You said that the background check came up clear. Do you KNOW that there was actually a true background check? Do you really KNOW what the customs people have access to? That might change over time.

Here's what I KNOW. If you are asked directly if you have EVER had a DUI and you answer truthfully, you have no legal problems. Obviously, a YES might get you denied entry into Canada. They let you turn around and go back into the U.S.

If you lie and get caught, you are now in a whole different situation. The DUI is now the least of your worries because you have just lied to a Customs official in order to gain unlawful entry into a foreign country. You don't have the right to go back to the U.S. without their permission because you are in violation of Canadian and International Law.

Everybody reading this that has anything that might cause them problems entering Canada needs to decide how they will handle potential questions. There's only one answer for me for every question they might ask. The truth. Anything else has the potential to land a person in real trouble.

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I remembered reading a story in the Grand Forks Hearld around 2002. After 10 years without repeat offences a person is considered rehibilated and may enter Cananda.

Check the last paragraph
http://www.tiac-aitc.ca/english/customsandborders.asp

http://www.canadianfishing.com/dui.htm

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So as I rwad this it tells me that our own president is not allowed in CA>

"Life is hard, It is even harder when you are stupid"

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I entered Saskatchewan this October and I had a DUI conviction around 16 years ago. I called the Canadian Port of Entry before traveling and explained my situation to the Border officer and he said that my DUI conviction was over 10 years old and that I had only one conviction so I shouldnt worry about it. When we went thru the Port of Entry I had to declare a firearm and that went as smoothly as possible. There were no questions asked about my past and I'm sure there was a background check done when my firearm was registered with them. According to Saskatchewan's law I would be considered under DEEMED REHABILITATION.... conviction over ten years and only one conviction. I had no problem entering Canada at all. Just be honest with the Border Patrol.. and don't lie!

If you want to become a 'good' archer become the BOW, if you want to become a 'great' archer become the ARROW....  BYRON FERGUSON

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Farnorth,
Ha Ha, this is rapidly going the way of the thread last spring!! Lots of experts who know more about crossing the border and all the rules and regulations that go with that than the customs officials who do the inspections!!! I could give a rip less one way or the other, I just posted this so anyone thinking of crossing got a heads up.

I guess I'll have to write a letter of protest to the Herald for printing an article with gross deceptions in it, such as the 2 guys who were refused entry for DUI's in the 70's and 80's. Shame on them for doing something like that. I'll bet those guys just lied to the reporter so they had the geese and fish to themselves!!

Bowhuntin's picture
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dearal,
The two websites you posted aren't even official government websites so I wouldn't put much stock in them.

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in 2002 my 57 yr old father in law was denied entry to canada. he had a dui in 71 and forgot about it and the canadien authorities seen it on his record and would not let him in he had to dock his load and someone else picked it up and brought it in. he couldnt believe it he had actually forgotten about it being so long ago

Bowhuntin's picture
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hawkeye2000,
Are you sure you aren't mistaken? Lots of experts here seem to disagree with your story!!LOL!!

Actually I believe you, and have heard and know first hand many of the same things happening all the time. Seems to depend on what crossing you arrive at, and what kind of power trip the border agent is on that day.

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Heads Up on the DUI issue manitoba has the strictest laws on drinking and driving. For those who wish to go to the north for fishing and hunting, a DUI is a minimum of 1200.00 fine and a loss of driving for 1 year. Also your vehicle gets impounded for 30 days no ifs' ands', or buts'.The impound charges vary. They put you through the ringer. So if you booze in manitoba be sure you have a DD.

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yeah i am sure a can still remember how dumbfounded my fatherinlaw felt

Rowdie's picture
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This happened to ME in 1998. I tried to cross into Canada, and let them know about a DUI I had 11 years earlier. I was denied, unless I paid XX amount of dollars.

"Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy.".     Dan Gabel

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I personally know individuals who will attest to the fact that even one DUI in your past, regardless of your age or how long ago the offense occured can make it VERY difficult to get back into Canada ever again if one intends to be 100% truthful at the border, and for one's own personal well being it isn't wise to be anything other than 100% truthful when entering another country.

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"What a joke" the ministry can stick it as far as I'm concerned,they just want our money not to mention we have plenty of good fishing here.Keep the money here.

Odd thing is we have 10million or is it 20million illegals roaming our country on OUR dime and we Americans can't get across the canadian border for some r&r.

Perazzi usa
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Has anyone successfully been "rehabilitated"? My roomate has a very recent (2yrs.) DUI. We'd like to make a waterfowl trip north, but he can't get across w/o rehabilitation. And it looks like you can't apply for rehabilitation until 5 years after your date of conviction. We surfed the net and found the info, but were still confused. Is it worth going through an agency like mentioned in the article?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” - Albert Einstein

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This is such poppycock. Why don't all the drunks just stay out of canada and we won't have to have this he said she said, be totally truthful when entering another country, discussion. If your scared about it stay home. As stated above, keep the money in the U.S.

 

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I agree its frustrating to get to the border and find that you are not allowed in because of a past minor consumption or DUI.  Who made the decision to drink and get caught in the first place?  I tell my children all the time who are all over 20 now, getting a DUI or a minor consumption carries a heavy consequence not only in the U.S. but also Canada.  Its hard for me to believe that people are that stupid that they don't think their drinking carries no consequences.  I don't feel sorry for anyone who can't get into canada they brought it upon themselves.  I was born and raised in Ontario Canada and now living in Minnesota, I have always abided by laws from both countries how hard is that?

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I live on the border and crossed the borders in mn, and n.d. 25 weekends a year for 15 years, and believe me that 1 old dui will get you denied access to canada. What ever you do answer all questions honestly. From what i can tell they dont allways run a background check on everybody crossing. but if they do and you are lying watch out you are breaking the law. My best advice is get a  passport or nexus card, it makes border crossing 100% easier. (passport is required i believe now). I know alot of people that have tried paying the fees to canada to clear there record and were denied. stupid law but it is a law.  I have lots of storys of bad border crossing from getting pulled into secondary for being the only one in the vehical and haveing 3 lawn chairs and camo rain gear to getting secondaried for pulling up and my camper door popped open and i didnt know it.. most border officials are good people but there job wouldnt be easy.

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Here is the deal with the Rehabilitation.  I applied for it and was approved 2 years ago so I know it works, it's just kind of a pain in the a. 
The lady named in the article- Lucy Perillo works for border crossing services in Winnepeg, if you contact them they will get you started with the right paper work to start filling out for rehabilitation.  The rehab is different from the temp permit, if you apply and are approved for rehab it is for life.
You need to go through a ton of paperwork, including getting court records, police records, reference letters and a few other things.  It takes a couple months to get everything together.  Once you have everything together you go to the border crossing and meet with them.  (I think it has to be a main crossing as well- Pembina) The head guy there reviews all your paperwork and prints and signs something that they stapled into the back of my passport stating I am rehabilitated and they cannot keep me from crossing into Canada because of my prior DUI conviction.  Since I have gotten that, they look at it and I have no problems getting into Canada.
A couple of catches-  the whole process cost me about 800 bucks and you can't apply for rehabilitation until your DUI is 6 years old.
No matter what stories you hear, this is the only way to be able to cross the border without having to lie or to worry about not getting in.

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Remm,yup,its all about the mighty dollar isn't it?,met some fine folks over the years up there,but everytime you turn around they (the ministry) stick it to us,have'nt been back up in years,since the "gun fee's" for hunters,ammo restrictions,slots,license increase's,ding'd on bringing bait in and produce...etc etc..Now Ontario has a NR sportsman license,you will now need two licenses.

Long story short,keep your money here in the states,support our folks here,times are tough and we sportsmen/women can help.

Perazzi usa
Benelli usa
Briley Chokes
 

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A few years ago a friend and his dad were going fishing and at the border my friend was inside the building and one of the other border patrol ask the dad to open the trunk(this guy is almost deaf) and the dad said no, the agent asked again and the dad said no my friend looked out and saw a problem so he went out and ask what the problem was and the agent said again to open the trunk and the dad said no .So his son yelled open the trunk and he did and then the dad asked "why did the guy ask me 3 times if I was drunk.". I am sure the border agent will never forget that time.

The best democrat platform a Republican can stand on it a manure pile

drug test everyone on welfare

have an open season on molesters

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i will share my experience with you now.i received a dui in 1981 also 2000.i have been through the border in emerson manitoba 30 times since i was 15 yrs old.i am 46 now.i live in wisconsin.this year we all got passports,4 of us.we were staying in drayton north dakota fishing.went to canada to see my grampas gravestone in emerson.got to border and she gives me a slip and tells us to go inside.we sit inside for about a half hour and then she calls my name.thinking its my truck thats why they called my name.well i go up to talk to her and she says you have a conviction from 1981.i said ah i guess but i really couldnt remember at the moment what it was.i said i was 17 and she got pissed and said no you were 18.i said i stole gas or something.she said you would be able to enter because the fine wasnt or 500.00 dollars.then they checked my truck after we were let out of building.another 25 minutes of bull crap.now why didnt they find my owi from 10 yrs ago.i was so pissed when they brought up a conviction from 28 yrs ago.so i called the border and talked with a superintendent when i got back.explained my suituation and asked why you didnt find my dui from 10 yrs ago.he said sometimes if the citation wasnt registerd with the national data base they might not see it.so it is entirely up to you if you want to try and enter canada.i also have dual citizenship,my parents are both canadain.i usually never bring this fact up went i enter canada.so i explaned that to the superintendent and he said if i would have told them i was also a canadian citizen it wouldnt matter about my convictions.i have a citizenship card from when i was 17 yrs old.next time i go there next year they can kiss my azz.

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pinklady01 Said:

I agree its frustrating to get to the border and find that you are not allowed in because of a past minor consumption or DUI.  Who made the decision to drink and get caught in the first place?  I tell my children all the time who are all over 20 now, getting a DUI or a minor consumption carries a heavy consequence not only in the U.S. but also Canada.  Its hard for me to believe that people are that stupid that they don't think their drinking carries no consequences.  I don't feel sorry for anyone who can't get into canada they brought it upon themselves.  I was born and raised in Ontario Canada and now living in Minnesota, I have always abided by laws from both countries how hard is that?

I get annoyed with these "holier-than-thou" comments. I'm sure you've never done anything wrong before in your life pinklady so thanks for the lecture. Enjoy Minnesota

J

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 I have one DWI conviction from 1997.  I have since given up drinking totally and dont drive.  I have since entered canada from the US 2 times without a problem. I entered by amtrak. But the last time they once again never noticed my record.  But customs inspector asked me about a hundred questions.  He asked me if I had ever been brought before a judge.  I said No.  He never went further than that.  I have read that I can be arrested for lying to a customs official.

I AM NOW TELLING ALL AMERICANS NOT TO GO TO CANADA BECAUSE OF THIS.  IT IS PREVENTING ME FROM EVER GOING AGAIN BECAUSE I DONT WANT TO GIVE MY MONEY TO A COUNTRY THAT IS BEING UNREASONABLE.  I dont want to get arrested for lying so I will not go to Canada ever again.  Keep in mind, I dont drink or drive an automobile.

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It's not that tough,  don't drink and drive.  By no means do I claim to be holier than thou,  maybe just smart enough to not drink and drive.  It's not rocket science.

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thats why all should go to alaska. still the US and no BS.  better fishing too

cant drink all day unless you start in the morning.
Im only one man
GET SOME!!!!!

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