Everything You Need to Know About DUI Deportation
Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.
Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from the Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: October 08, 2020, Last Updated on: October 20, 2020.
For foreign nationals living in the United States who are arrested for driving under the influence, deportation is a common concern. Learn more about the potential consequences of a DUI here.
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Understanding DUI Deportation
If you are an immigrant, non-citizen, or visa holder in the United States, you may be concerned about the possibility of DUI removal. All foreign nationals who are convicted of what is called a “deportable crime” may be deported to their home countries and barred from re-entering the U.S. or labeled inadmissible for future immigration.
In most cases, a single Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction is not sufficient grounds for removal for people who are legally present in the United States; however, undocumented immigrants or people with certain types of DUI convictions may have much more reason for concern.
Deportation related to criminal convictions may apply to all non-citizens in the United States, including:
- Green card holders and immigrants with permanent residence status, even if they have been legally present in the U.S. for years and own homes or businesses or have a dependent U. S. citizen child;
- Visa holders, including workers on H-1B, E2, O1, or L1 visas; investors or business owners with investor visas; international students and exchange visa holders;
- Refugees who were granted asylum in the United States;
- Children of undocumented immigrants who are otherwise eligible for DACA;
- Undocumented immigrants who do not currently have a legal presence in the United States.
Immigrants and foreign nationals in the U.S. who are facing DUI charges or are concerned about deportation should contact an immigration attorney at Manji Law, PC for advice regarding their next steps.
What Can Cause Deportation for DUI?
If you are legally present in the United States, it is highly unlikely for a single DUI conviction without aggravating factors or additional charges to lead to removal for DUI. Undocumented immigrants may be vulnerable to deportation after a DUI arrest, however.
The Immigration and Nationality Act lays out certain crimes that may result in removal for a foreign national. DUI is not a specified crime under the Act, but in some cases, DUI is combined with other charges and could therefore affect the immigration process.
Can I Be Deported for a DUI Charge?
If you are living in the United States on a green card, any sort of run-in with law enforcement can be incredibly stressful. The concept of losing the progress you have made on your journey to citizenship based on a single mistake is both heartbreaking and panic-inducing.
Even if you have displayed good moral character during your time in the United States, there are situations where a DUI conviction can lead to removal. However, working with an Atlanta, GA immigration attorney can help you continue your push for citizenship and a green card even after you are charged with driving under the influence.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, anyone who possesses a green card can be deported to their home country and barred from re-entry into the United States for a designated number of years. When you first came to the United States, you were granted entry based on certain factors. The federal government typically considers factors such as a steady line of work, relatives who can act as your sponsor, and proof of your own good moral character.
Since a DUI charge can lead to a loss of employment and can raise questions about your moral character, being charged with a DUI is a good reason to contact an immigration attorney.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude
If you are going through the immigration process, you have probably heard the term “moral turpitude.” Even though these charges typically pertain to crimes that are especially wicked or depraved, there are times where a charge of driving under the influence can come into play under the heading of “moral turpitude.”
If the police stop you for a DUI and discover the fact that you have been participating in any of these other crimes, you should be concerned about deportation.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI
If you have never been charged with DUI, being pulled over because an officer noticed that you were driving erratically may not lead to immediate removal. In all likelihood, a first-time offender will receive a misdemeanor DUI charge. You are still advised to seek legal counsel for misdemeanor DUI charges, but you can take rest in the fact that a single charge probably won’t result in deportation.
However, if your DUI charge is elevated to the level of a felony, you may have reason to be concerned. If your driving under the influence results in the serious injury or death of another person, the prosecutor may choose to charge you with a felony DUI charge. Once felony charges are in play, the need for an immigration attorney to fight for your defense becomes even more crucial.
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DUI Immigration Consequences
Non-citizens may be deported from the United States if they are convicted of what U. S. immigration law calls “crimes of moral turpitude,” defined as a crime that contravenes standards of justice or good morals. In most cases, DUI does not qualify as a crime of moral turpitude, and it is not considered an aggravated felony, as specified by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
However, DUI immigration consequences may result from a conviction related to DUI with a revoked license, a DUI with a child in the car, or a DUI with drugs involved. While driving under the influence is typically not considered to require some kind of criminal intent, DUI with an already suspended license or with a child in the car may lead to enhanced charges that elevate the penalty to a level that may be considered a crime of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony.
If you or someone you love is concerned about the potential immigration consequences of a DUI conviction, please contact an Atlanta deportation lawyer who specializes in DUI defense for more information.
Can DUI Lead to Deportation?
Can a DUI result in removal? If you are not a U.S. citizen and you are convicted of a DUI, you could face ICE deportation under certain circumstances, including whether there are additional offenses attached to your DUI conviction.
A DUI involving injury to another person may be treated differently in different cases. On the one hand, it is generally not considered a crime of violence. However, it may be considered reckless driving and therefore be considered a crime of moral turpitude, like a conviction for driving with a suspended license or with a minor in the car.
In some cases, diversion proceedings that may help U.S. citizens to avoid certain consequences of a DUI conviction may have unintended consequences for foreign nationals. In addition, if you are an undocumented immigrant, a DUI may cause severe consequences.
Unfortunately, DUI is a common reason to trigger U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removal proceedings for people who are already undocumented or who have overstayed a visa. When this happens, having the best Atlanta DUI lawyers on your side is essential.
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DUI Deportable Offense
A DUI related to “drugged driving” is different in immigration terms than one related to drunk driving because U.S. immigration law lists drug crimes separately as grounds for deportation or inadmissibility. Even a minor drug conviction could result in immigration consequences. Therefore, any criminal conviction related to drugs may be a DUI deportable crime.
However, this is not universal. State convictions for drugged driving may not necessarily involve a substance on the federal controlled substances list, and those convictions do not carry the same immigration consequences.
In addition, as noted, DUI convictions involving driving on a suspended license or with a child in the car may also trigger adverse consequences. Your criminal immigration lawyer can let you know if you face such consequences and, if so, build a strong defense in your favor.
While multiple DUI convictions related to alcohol do not lead to adverse immigration consequences in the absence of another offense or a crime, multiple DUI convictions may be used to argue that an applicant for citizenship is an alcoholic or habitually drunk. This may be used as a health bar to citizenship or other immigration benefits.
DACA, DUI, and Deportation
In most cases, even a felony DUI will not impact your immigration status. However, if you are seeking DACA protection or citizenship, you may still be concerned about DUI and deportation, even though DUI offenses are not listed as aggravated felonies under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Because DACA is not a law but a recommendation for enforcement that continues to be heavily disputed between the major parties, applicants may be more vulnerable than documented immigrants.
DACA applicants must show their “good moral character” as part of their application, a higher standard than simply not having been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. A DUI conviction on one’s criminal record may cause an application for deferred action to be rejected, although some applicants may be able to have an old DUI expunged before applying for protection under DACA.
If you’re interested in this option, do not hesitate to contact an immigration law firm with criminal defense experience.
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Permanent Resident DUI Removal
Lawful permanent residents and green card holders may also face challenges when applying for U.S. citizenship after a DUI conviction.
While lawful permanent resident DUI removal based on a conviction for alcohol DUI alone is rare, applicants for citizenship must demonstrate their good moral character, and the process includes a criminal background check. In addition, alcoholism or substance abuse are considered valid health-related reasons to deny a citizenship application for a green card holder.
Contact an Attorney When Facing Deportation for DUI
The interaction between a DUI conviction and immigration status can be complex, and the circumstances may vary for each individual case. As such, hiring a skilled Georgia immigration lawyer is essential.
When you work with Manji Law’s top-rated criminal defense and immigration lawyers, you’ll have a trusted advocate standing by your side through all stages of your case, including any deportation proceedings, working tirelessly to help you avoid deportation and move forward from this incident. For detailed advice after being charged with DUI or when applying for a change of immigration status, contact us online or call us at (678) 902-2999 to schedule a consultation.
Strategies for Your Defense
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest, your attorney will begin building your defense. In some cases, if the officers involved in your stop and subsequent arrest violate any of your rights, an attorney may be able to fight to have the charges dropped altogether. That is why you need to be able to provide a detailed account of the traffic stop to your attorney who is fighting to protect your green card.
Additionally, your attorney may point to your good moral character that you have displayed during your time in the United States. Having a track record of good moral character, including holding down a steady job and being a positive member of your community goes a long way in your defense.
Courts are often sympathetic to people who have made a mistake by deciding to drive under the influence. Your lawyer can use examples of your excellent character to show the court that you are a good person who had a lapse in judgment.
Even though it is rare for a DUI charge to lead to a deportation by itself, there are situations where a DUI can lead to removal, especially if it seems to be a pattern of behavior.
That is why it is so important that you seek the legal counsel of a Atlanta, GA immigration attorney if you are charged with your first DUI. This attorney may be able to help you fight the charges and have the charges removed from your record, allowing you to continue your pursuit of the American dream.
Atlanta Immigration Resources
- Atlanta Deportation Lawyer
- Atlanta Immigration Court
- Complete Guide to I-485
- Folkston ICE Processing Center
- Georgia Immigration
- Guide to I-765
- How Long Does it Take to Bring a Spouse to the USA?
- Immigration Attorney Atlanta
- Irwin County Detention Center
- Stewart Detention Center
- The Hidden Impact of ICE Deportation
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Georgia Immigration Law is much the same as immigration law throughout the USA. However, there are also regulations specific to Georgia like E-Verify regulations and rules for state/city law enforcement, and there are local sites and agencies to be aware of.
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Complete Guide to I-485
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#1 Guide on I-765
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