Entering Canada with years old DUI conviction

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Bowhuntin
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Joined: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:00am
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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Joined: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 4:42pm

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.

 

rezleb
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Joined: Monday, December 31, 2001 - 12:00am

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
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Joined: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:00am

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.

Farnorth
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Joined: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 12:00am

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.

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eyexer
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Joined: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 4:42pm

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.

 

Farnorth
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Joined: Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 12:00am

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.

dearal
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Joined: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 5:48pm

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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NDOUTDOORS
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Joined: Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 4:37pm

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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RecurveShooter
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Joined: Sunday, December 16, 2001 - 12:00am

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

Bowhuntin
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Joined: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:00am

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!!

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