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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    05.16.18 @ 11:48 AM
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    Default DUI charge could bar Olympic tourists from entering Canada

    VANCOUVER - You're an American who's arrived at the border just south of Vancouver, or perhaps landed at the airport, on the eve of the Olympics. Those pricey tickets to the opening ceremonies and medal round hockey suddenly have become worthless - to you, anyway - when the Canada Border Services agent orders you to turn around.

    The computer in his booth has told him you've got a conviction for driving under the influence in your home state, a crime that makes you inadmissible to Canada, something that's not the case for Canadians headed south.

    While impaired driving is a Criminal Code offence in Canada, the United States has a checkerboard of state laws governing driving under the influence - DUI - with varying levels of severity from misdemeanour to felony, and often light penalties unless damage, injury or death is involved.

    With thousands of Americans expected to come to Vancouver and Whistler for the Games in February, lawyers on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border say the potential is there for many to get an expensive shock.

    "It's a huge issue for people who want to go to the Olympics - for some who even a long time ago have had a DUI that was reduced (to a lesser charge) and they've long since forgotten about it,'' says Jon Scott Fox, whose practice in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue handles nothing but DUIs.

    "Those people will have an unpleasant surprise at the border.''

    Fox says he got a call recently from a client turned back at the border who hadn't even been convicted. The charge was to be dismissed after the client had completed an alcohol treatment course.

    "Whatever database the border guards were accessing showed a pending case,'' he says.

    Upwards of a million Americans a year are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Washington state alone, Fox says, 25,000 people were arrested last year for driving under the influence.

    "If even a small percentage of the people who have a conviction or a reduction try to cross (for the Olympics), those lines are going to get quite long,'' he says.

    Americans shouldn't bother complaining to their government about it.

    "There will be some and I will tell them, 'You have a DUI, sorry about that,''' says Phil Chicola, U.S. consul general in Vancouver. "You shouldn't drink and drive. I have no sympathy for those people.''

    As criminal-record databases became more widely accessible in the wake of 9-11, convictions that would have escaped unnoticed now routinely pop up on Canadian border agents' screens.

    Canada Border Services doesn't classify DUIs separately but its statistics show that last year almost a thousand people were turned back in the Pacific region for a record of criminality - the vast majority for serious criminality that would have drawn jail sentences in Canada. Numbers are down so far this year.

    Someone who's deemed inadmissible for a less serious offence can be allowed entry for compelling reasons under a temporary residence permit issued at a border officer's discretion. But it's intended for things like family emergencies, not a once-in-a-lifetime Olympic excursion.

    "I don't specifically know but I don't think tickets to the Olympics is going to be a compelling reason,'' says agency spokeswoman Hannah Mahoney. "They do have the potential to be turned around at that point.''

    Someone convicted of relatively minor criminality, including DUI, can be deemed rehabilitated if five to 10 trouble-free years have elapsed since they've completed their sentence.

    That decision also can be made by at the border but Vancouver lawyer Sam Hyman, who works to get clients declared rehabilitated, says agents have become more stringent since an auditor-general's report a couple of years ago criticized the way they used their discretion.

    "I've seen cases where multi-million-dollar deals were not felt by some officers to be compelling enough reasons, where jobs to Canada were at stake,'' he says.

    For multiple offences or more serious crimes, getting the rehabilitated designation can take up to a year. A pardon in the local jurisdiction is no guarantee of renewed admission into Canada, border services warns.

    Hyman handles dozens of DUI-related rehabilitation cases a year.

    "I can get upwards of 50 inquiries in a week,'' he says.

    DUI is what's called hybrid offence. In Canada, prosecutors can proceed by summary conviction (a misdemeanour in U.S. terms) or indictment (a felony), but under border rules it's always treated as the more serious of the two. There's no slack for an American who's had his DUI at home plea-bargained down to a lesser offence.

    Many U.S. states also have a separate DUI law for those under 21, with a low alcohol reading enough for conviction without evidence of impairment. They sometimes show up on the border agent's database even if the driver was a juvenile at the time.

    Neither Vancouver Olympic organizers, B.C. Tourism officials nor border services plan any special campaign to warn would-be Olympic tourists about the potential stumbling block.

    However, the U.S. State Department consular services web site for Canada includes travel tips that specifically mention drunk driving as a potential bar to entry.

    "These are Canada's rules,'' says Chicola. "I don't know that it should be a criminal offence but you've decided its a criminal offence. You make it a criminal offence, you have every right to turn them back.''
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk edwardv's Avatar
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    05.26.18 @ 03:41 PM
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    They will let you in you just have to pay 300 for a Temporary Resident Permit with less than five years since your sentence. They also think a PBJ is a conviction but they will gladly take your money at customs. And yes they do take credit cards! With a million plus people a year getting DUIs in the USA and many visiting Canada thats a nice piece of change for them.
    Last edited by edwardv; 01.27.10 at 03:57 AM.
    EVH 1979: Well, actually it's not much of a vacation, because we run everything ourselves. We design our own album cover, we have to be in the office every day to sign checks - the whole corporation revolves around us. Nothing can be done without our approval. We even have photo approval.

  3. #3
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    01.26.17 @ 04:47 PM
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    I use to go over the border all the time with a friend who had at least one dui maybe more and it was never a problem for him sometimes i would get asked a few qustions as i wasnt a US citzen



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