The collateral consequences for a DWI conviction are severe – you not only have the possibility of going to jail, but have to deal with the loss of your driver’s license, needing to use special series “whiskey” plates on your vehicles, court mandated treatment, expensive and exasperating ignition interlock programs . . . the list goes on and on. And these consequences keep getting harsher, year after year.
Surprisingly, one collateral consequence that affects hundreds of Minnesotans annually may have just gotten a little easier to deal with. I’m talking about the fact that, until recently, a DWI conviction usually bars you from entering Canada for up to ten years. While there are ways around the law, none of them are reliable and all of them are expensive.
Many of our clients travel to Canada – for business conventions, to hunt or fish, or to visit relatives. Our advice to anyone charged with a DWI, who still wishes to visit Canada, is the same as always – fight the charges! Canada can’t bar your entry if you are never convicted of a DWI.
However, if that’s no longer an option, there is still hope. That’s because starting March 1 Canada has officially relaxed its border restrictions for those with DWI’s on their record.
Citing the severe economic problems that the old law was causing for Canada’s tourism industry, these new regulations may “change 70-80 percent of the turnbacks at the border for people who now qualify.” This new Tourism Facilitation Action Plan should apply to anyone who served less than six months in jail for their DWI offense, and is good news for anyone who has missed taking week-long fishing trips into Canada, or tried to visit Canada on business.
While Minnesota continues to enact harsher and harsher penalties for even first time DWI offenders, it is heartening to see that our neighbor up north has become more willing to cut many offenders a break, and again permit their entry into Canada.