Detroit is the largest city in the United States to share a border with Canada. The relatively easy access to Windsor, Ontario is an attractive port for people looking to travel north of the border. However, if you are from the US and have ever been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or a similar crime, you may be unable to enter Canada for at least 10 years.
Why is this the case? Canada treats OWI/DUI as a serious offense, similar to a felony-level crime in the United States. It does not matter if you pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor level charge of OWI or not, Canada views it just the same. Similarly, a charge of OWI/DUI with later dismissal can still be cause for denied entry into Canada.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) now has access to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime records. International officials have worked together to increase border security around the world since 9/11. While these efforts were made to keep citizens safe from terrorists, people with minor criminal offenses may also be flagged in the system depending on the laws of an individual country.
Just because a crime may be treated at a lower level in the United States doesn’t mean a foreign country has to treat it that way. Although the US and Canada share trade deals and some military protections, Canada is still a sovereign country with the ability to make its own laws. Treatment of OWI/DUI cases is an area of disagreement between the two countries
How do I gain access after OWI/DUI?
Canada’s restrictions on foreign visitors with a criminal record has even affected officials at the highest level of US government. President George W. Bush had to obtain a waiver to enter Canada on diplomatic visits because of a drunken driving offense incurred in Maine in 1976.
People with a criminal record seeking entry into Canada may apply for a temporary resident permit. TRPs are approved on a case-by-case basis by the Canadian Embassy and provide a way for individuals with a criminal record to visit the country temporarily.
OWI/DUI has long term consequences
Criminal offenses including OWI/DUI can have long-term consequences. OWI/DUI raises insurance rates, affects employment prospects, and can restrict your ability to travel to foreign countries.
A highly experienced law firm can help you manage an OWI/DUI charge.