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Visiting Canada after a Washington State DUI

Planning on going to Canada after a DUI arrest in Washington State?

If you have been convicted of a DUI, it may be difficult to get across the border. Even if you have your DUI charged reduced from a gross misdemeanor to negligent or reckless driving, you can still be denied entry into Canada. We have posted prior blogs and articles regarding entry into Canada but nothing replaces picking up the telephone.

If you are planning to cross the border to the north, some general advice may be helpful but nothing replaces actual advice from an actual Washington attorney and or an attorney licensed to practice Canadian immigration law.  Call us for actual advice.

Generally speaking...

For a recent DUI (generally less than ten years) Apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Leave yourself plenty of time for this process, as it can take months. The filing fee is several hundred dollars.

You will also need a “police certificate” to show criminal history (generally from the FBI)mfrom every state you have lived in since you were 18 years old. You will also need the address, dates of all the places you lived and worked in every state since you were 18 years old. 

For a DUI 10 Years or Older: Arrive at the border with previously obtained Certificate of Rehabilitation. Once you are approved and certified rehabilitated, your DUI should not pose a problem.

It is always a good idea to double check with the Canadian Consulate at 206-443-2372.

Remember most attorneys offer free consultations on the phone in an effort to help guide you and assure them you have the kind of case they want.  Call us and we can make a referral or guide you through the process.

All too often, those who have been convicted of a DUI are surprised to learn that they will likely be turned away from border when trying to enter Canada. When clients consult with me on the issue, I generally tell them the following: If you have been found guilty of any conduct, in any country, which would constitute a felony crime in Canada, you are ineligible to enter the Great White North. A DUI is a felony in Canada, even a first offense. Moreover, a lesser charge resulting from an amendment from a DUI can also complicate your border crossing experience.

However, in such circumstances, the decision to let you cross is up to the border patrol and there is no exact standard, rather it is a discretionary call. Technically, it is called a waiver. When applying for waiver, you should come with a plethora of documentation showing that you are a well intentional individual all around. For example, references from employers, family and friends. You should also bring your court docs (certified copies) and your police report from the incident. For example, if you blew a .09 or .11, you are in better shape than if you blew a .22. You should also bring some indication that you have not committed any other crimes. You can get a copy of your criminal history from the Washington State Patrol or the FBI. Note however, that when you are relying on your Washington State Patrol report, you should have sufficient documentation showing that you have lived in Washington. If you have lived elsewhere, you should bring with you documentation from that State or the FBI.

Basically, the border patrol officer wants to be assured that you have sufficient ties to the US to believe that will be returning to the US and that during your stay you will not engage in any criminal activity. The difficulty with the waiver approach is uncertainly.

Moreover, waivers have no effect on subsequent visits. Therefore, you can easily be allowed in on one occasion and turned away on another.

Alternatively, you can apply for rehabilitation, meaning once rehabilitated, you may enter Canada as if the crime never occurred.

You can go down to your local Canadian consulate and ask for an application. You should bring with you all the things discussed above, and whatever makes you look like a good law abiding citizen. The more documentation you provide, the better your chances. This process comes with a long wait time, but the consulate will give you a good idea about what you should bring to get waived through. Sometimes, you may request a rehabilitation interview at the border. I have been told in the past, that the Border Patrol appreciates it when clients are proactive and have consulted the local consulate on the issue prior to coming to the border. It tends to corroborate your ability to be a responsible and conscious visitor.

The above is intended to be a guide through process; however, just like any run-in with law, your situation is always unique. Our office offers a consulting service which is aimed at guiding you through the process and increasing your overall chances of making it across the border.

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