D.U.I. issue more than meets the eye

RAINY RIVER—Members of the Rainy River District Municipal Association passed a resolution at their annual meeting Saturday in Rainy River asking that U.S. visitors with impaired driving convictions be allowed to cross into Canada “without penalty or unwarranted delay, provided that the penalty imposed on conviction has been satisfied and any probation period related to the same has expired.”
Local Canada Border Services Agency Superintendent Doug Cuthbertson was a guest speaker at the annual meeting and informed those on hand that the actual number of people turned back at area border crossings is very minuscule.
“At Fort Frances, we process about 800,000 travellers each year. Of those roughly about 400,000 are Americans,” he noted.
“Last year we had 925 inadmissible people—319 of those were allowed in on temporary permits [while] 606 were refused entry.”
Cuthbertson also stated they “will not refuse anyone entry who had a [D.U.I.] older than 10 years old.”
But with that in mind, he elaborated that in most cases where a traveller has been turned back, there is more to the story.
He spoke about an instance last summer when he and his wife went to a friend’s cottage and they had some U.S. visitors there.
“The guy told everyone, not knowing I worked that day at Customs, that he was harassed and had his fillet knife seized, and had to pay $640 to get in [to Canada].”
The truth was he actually had more than 15 grams of marijuana and a prohibited weapon.
“If anyone gets caught at the border with over 15 grams, we seize the drugs and your car,” said Cuthbertson. “You can’t get the drugs back, but you can get your car for $440.”
Cuthbertson also clarified that they do not seize fillet knives—only prohibited weapons such as butterfly knives or similar such weapons.
Again, a $200 fine can be paid to get one’s vehicle back (hence the two fines added up to $640).
“I submit to you that on this D.U.I. issue, you are not getting the entire story from people,” Cuthbertson stressed. “Not one of the complaints against us last year changed anything.
“With it being such a small percentage, I do not think it is a large enough issue to worry about.”
Lake of the Woods Coun. Tony Sepers spoke and voted against the RRDMA resolution, saying, “They [U.S. tourists] should know our laws here.”
(Fort Frances Times)