Can a DUI Get You Deported?
Can a DUI Get You Deported?


Can a DUI Get You Deported?

In the complex landscape of U.S. immigration law, understanding the consequences of criminal convictions, including DUI (Driving Under the Influence), is crucial for non-citizens residing in the country. At The Law Offices of Daniel Shanfield Immigration Defense, PC, located in San Jose, CA, we frequently encounter questions from clients concerned about how a DUI conviction could impact their immigration status. This blog aims to shed light on this important issue and guide those facing such circumstances.

What is a DUI?

A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is defined as follows:

  • Type of Offense: Criminal offense involving operating a vehicle while impaired.
  • Causes of Impairment: Alcohol, prescription medications, recreational drugs, over-the-counter medications.
  • Legal Limit: Varies by jurisdiction; commonly, a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher for drivers aged 21 and over. Lower limits apply for commercial drivers and individuals under the legal drinking age.
  • Consequences: Can include fines, license suspension, mandatory education or rehabilitation programs, and imprisonment.

Can a DUI Get You Deported?

The direct impact of a DUI conviction on one’s immigration status can vary significantly based on several factors, including the specifics of the offense, the non-citizen’s current immigration status, and their criminal history. Here’s what you need to know:

Single DUI Convictions

A single DUI conviction, especially if it’s a first offense that does not involve aggravating factors (such as injuries to others, high blood alcohol content, or the presence of minors in the vehicle), typically does not automatically lead to deportation. However, it can still affect immigration processes, such as naturalization, visa renewal, or green card applications, by impacting the “good moral character” assessment.

DUIs with Aggravating Factors

DUI convictions that involve aggravating factors can have more severe immigration consequences. Examples of aggravating factors include:

  • Repeat DUI offenses
  • DUIs resulting in injury or death
  • DUIs combined with other criminal activities, such as drug possession or driving with a suspended license

These types of DUI convictions can be considered “crimes involving moral turpitude” or even “aggravated felonies” under immigration law, potentially leading to deportation, inadmissibility, or denial of naturalization.

DUIs and Controlled Substance Violations

A DUI conviction that includes a controlled substance violation (beyond alcohol) can lead to deportation. The U.S. immigration law is particularly strict about drug-related offenses, and a DUI involving drugs may make a non-citizen deportable, regardless of whether it’s a first offense.

What To Do If You Get a DUI as an Immigrant 

If you’re an immigrant and find yourself facing a DUI charge, it’s crucial to understand the potential impact on your immigration status and take appropriate steps to address the situation. Here’s a strategic approach to handling a DUI charge as an immigrant:

1. Contact an Immigration Attorney Immediately

Seek legal advice from an attorney who understands both immigration and criminal law. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the complexities of how a DUI charge could affect your immigration status.

2. Do Not Make Any Admissions or Decisions Without Legal Counsel

Avoid discussing your case or making any admissions to law enforcement or immigration officials before consulting with your attorney.

3. Understand the Specifics of Your Charge

DUI laws vary by state, and the specifics of your charge (such as the presence of aggravating factors) can significantly impact your immigration situation. Your attorney can explain the details and potential consequences.

4. Attend All Legal Proceedings and Comply with Court Requirements

Failing to appear in court or comply with court-ordered requirements can lead to additional legal issues that may complicate your immigration status further.

5. Explore All Legal Defenses and Options

Your attorney may identify defenses or mitigating factors that could lead to a dismissal or reduction of charges. This step is crucial, as certain outcomes can have less impact on your immigration status.

6. Consider the Impact on Immigration Applications

Understand how a DUI conviction might affect future immigration applications, including naturalization. A conviction can impact the assessment of “good moral character,” a requirement for many immigration benefits.

7. Prepare for Possible Immigration Proceedings

In some cases, a DUI can trigger immigration proceedings. Work with your attorney to prepare a defense strategy for immigration court, if necessary.

8. Stay Informed About Immigration Law Changes

Immigration laws and policies change frequently. Stay informed about any changes that could affect your case or status.

9. Evaluate the Possibility of Post-Conviction Relief

Depending on the outcome of your case, there may be options to pursue post-conviction relief to minimize the impact on your immigration status. Discuss these options with your attorney.

10. Maintain Documentation

Keep detailed records of your DUI case, including court documents, correspondence with your attorney, and any immigration proceedings. This documentation can be important for future immigration applications or proceedings.

Facing a DUI as an immigrant requires careful navigation of both criminal and immigration law. The key to managing the situation effectively is prompt, informed action with the guidance of a skilled attorney who can protect your rights and work towards the best possible outcome for your immigration status.

How An Immigration Defense Lawyer Can Help

An immigration defense lawyer specializes in navigating the complex web of immigration laws and procedures to assist individuals facing challenges with their immigration status. Whether it’s fighting deportation, applying for visas or green cards, or addressing complications from criminal charges, these legal professionals play a crucial role. Here’s how an immigration defense lawyer can help:

  • Deportation Defense: Representing individuals in removal proceedings and arguing for relief under laws like asylum.
  • Visa Applications and Renewals: Assisting with the application process for various visas, ensuring accuracy and timeliness.
  • Adjustment of Status and Green Cards: Helping individuals become lawful permanent residents or apply for green cards, addressing any inadmissibility issues.
  • Naturalization and Citizenship: Guiding eligible individuals through the naturalization process, including application submission and test preparation.
  • Addressing Complications from Criminal Charges: Working on plea deals to minimize immigration consequences and seeking post-conviction relief.
  • Legal Counsel and Guidance: Providing strategic advice tailored to the client’s specific situation and goals.
  • Representation at Interviews and Hearings: Accompanying clients to interviews and hearings with immigration officials.
  • Appeals: Filing appeals against denied applications or petitions.
  • Protecting Rights: Advocating for immigrants’ rights and challenging unjust laws or procedures.

Facing a DUI? Let Us Guide You.

Navigating the impact of a DUI on your immigration status can be daunting, but you don’t have to go through it alone. The Law Offices of Daniel Shanfield Immigration Defense, PC, are here to provide the specialized support and guidance you need. Our expertise in immigration law means we understand exactly how a DUI can affect your situation, and we’re ready to help you address the challenge.

Reach out to us now for a consultation. Together, we’ll navigate your path forward.

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