I made several payments for the ticket but just for the past couple months I’ve been living check by check and I need to cross the border for my dental insurance
So long as the unpaid ticket has not turned into an outstanding arrest warrant, you should be fine crossing the border. It sounds like you previously pleaded guilty, asked for a payment plan, and then stopped making payments...a warrant would not normally be issued under those circumstances.
If your license is not valid, however, you should not be driving. Make sure you have a ride to and from the dentist.
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