How serious is a DUI conviction? Well, among other things, it can get you barred from entering some countries, including our neighbor to the northâ€¦.. as President Bush discovered.
Under Canadaâ€™s laws (Section 19(2)(a.1) of the Immigration Act), anyone who has been convicted of drunk driving is a member of an â€œInadmissible Classâ€ and his entry into the country would be a criminal and deportable offense. Period. This is a lifetime ban: President Bushâ€™s 1976 conviction in Kennebunkport, Maine, would render him personna non grata. Same for Vice-President Cheneyâ€™s two DUIs in Wyoming.
However, Canadian law permits a person with a DUI on his record to be admitted into Canada if he has been successfully â€œrehabilitatedâ€. This requires applying for, and being granted, a â€œMinisterâ€™s Permit of Rehabilitationâ€ from the government â€” but not until five years after all of the terms of the sentence have been completed (if there is a three-year probation, as is common, then it will take at least eight years). The government reviews the application, along with accompanying evidence, and applies a â€œrehab checklistâ€ in deciding whether the individual has truly rehabilitated himself and should be permited to enter the country. This checklist includes evidence of genuine remorse, acceptance of responsibility, change in lifestyle, and stability in employment and family life.
As for President Bushâ€™s little problem some time ago when he wanted to meet with the Prime Minister, the Canadian government decided to bypass all of this and simply granted him a special â€œpardonâ€ permitting this unrehabilitated drunk driver into the countryâ€¦.for a limited period of time.