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Crossing into Canada with a DUI Conviction…

Canada is a strong economic partner not only to the United States, but more specifically with those states that border Canada, including Michigan. Many Michigan residents frequently travel to and from Canada to work for either short, or longer periods of time. The attorneys at SMDA regularly counsel clients who must travel to Canada as part of their regular job obligations.

Why is this important? Canada considers a drinking and driving conviction to be a very serious offense. While this is not a unique view, Canada goes so far as to prevent those individuals with a DUI conviction from crossing into its borders. Consequently, this can have very serious consequences for someone whose job duties require frequent travel into the Canadian provinces. Michigan clients arrested for drinking and driving offenses are not often aware of these barriers to entry until it is too late. The inability to enter Canada can lead to job loss or missed job opportunities. One SMDA client was in medical equipment sales where part of his territory included Ontario. When he was charged with a drinking and driving offense, the first consideration was how a conviction could lead to a loss of employment. Another recent circumstance involved a Michigan resident charged with a DUI offense who worked as a contract engineer in the auto industry. He had just been offered permanent employment with one of the big automakers, but his job involved a transfer to Ontario. An even more tragic example involved an SMDA client whose young son was living in Windsor, Ontario. This client encountered difficulties in crossing the borders even to see his child. Thankfully, he maintained a good relationship with his ex-wife, and she accommodated visitation by driving to the United States for visits. Not only are their legal and financial consequences to DUI offenses, there are also family and job-related consequences, too.

Regardless of the length of time Canada has made this classification or whether this classification was heightened following the events of 9/11, this Inadmissible status prohibits an individual from entering Canada and remaining within its borders. This status even prevents entry when they are simply passengers in a vehicle and not even the vehicle operator.

A definite strategic consideration employed by SMDA attorneys is to interview clients about visits to Canada and the anticipated need to cross the borders. It is with this Inadmissible classification in mind that these inquiries are made.

All hope is not lost in that Inadmissible status can be removed through an application for a Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation. However, this can be a lengthy and cumbersome undertaking equivalent to some of the most frustrating of bureaucratic hoop jumping. However, a Michigan resident can visit Canada before the Inadmissible status is removed through a Temporary Resident Permit. The Temporary Resident Permit allows entry into Canada for a single purpose or for a limited period. Be advised, though, that this process requires completion of forms and paying fees. You are advised to plan ahead and to employ the services of an experienced attorney to handle this process on your behalf. An attorney will know how to expedite the request, and they will not make mistakes causing delay.

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