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Canada Turns Drivers With DUI Records Back at the Border

Get ready to be turned back at the border if you try to go to Canada and have a prior DUI convictionn  In many states, a DUI conviction is considered a misdemeanor. Not so in Canada, which considers DUI a more serious crime. Canada denies entry to thousands of potential visitors each year who have prior DUI convictions. And it doesn't matter if you won't be driving in Canada either. Travelers have been pulled off buses and trains crossing our northern border and told to go home.

Security Tighter Since 9/11

Blame the 9/11 attacks. Since then, the United States and Canada have shared much more information about their residents' criminal records to help in screening undesirables at the border. Just because you previously crossed into Canada with a prior DUI on your record doesn't mean that you'll make it the next time. Even if your prior conviction was expunged and no longer appears on your U.S. record because of a special plea agreement, it still shows up on the records that Canada obtains from the United States. That means you could be headed home.

Waivers Sometimes Granted

Canada considers anyone with a DUI conviction rehabilitated if they have completed their sentence and more than ten years have elapsed. Even then, a person can be denied entry if they don't have the required paperwork to prove their criminal history. The safest course of action is to apply for a waiver.

Canada considers waivers based upon the number of convictions, the severity of the crime and the reason for the waiver. If you have only one DUI conviction, tourism could be a sufficient reason. If you have two or more DUIs don't bother. A job-related reason for requesting a waiver may be required. Waiver requests can take up to one year to be considered. In order to obtain a waiver, travelers may be requested to provide letters of recommendation, proof of employment, and, often, proof of attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

To date, there have been few if any reports of travelers being taken from airplanes due to DUI records. But if you're traveling to our northern neighbor by car or train, be prepared: that prior DUI could come back to haunt you.