How does a
immigration status? The answer depends on the circumstances of the conviction.
If you are a non-citizen who is legally here and then got a single DUI
conviction—without any additional aggravating factors—chances
are that you will not be deported. The rules for deporting immigrants
based on crimes derives from the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA),
which doesn’t list DUI as a deportable criminal offense.
In order to be deported for a crime, it must involve criminal intent (i.e.
a crime of moral turpitude). So even if your DUI charge caused an injury
or a death, or if you were driving with a BAC of 0.08 or greater, there
is no criminal intent presumed under such circumstances. While DUI manslaughter
is a serious offense, nobody drives drunk with the intention of killing somebody.
The following are the aggravating factors which can affect your immigration
status in California:
DUI on a suspended license – Driving on a suspended license requires a culpable state of mind
(i.e. if you are driving after your license has been suspended or revoked,
you know you’re breaking the law as soon as you get into the driver’s
seat). Therefore, DUI while on a suspended license is viewed as a crime
of moral turpitude.
DUI on drugs – The INA specifically lists drug crimes as grounds for deportation
or denial of a visa/green card. The act imposes immigration consequences
for drug crimes related to substances that are banned by the federal Controlled
DUI with child in the vehicle – When a person is charged with a DUI with a child under 14 in the
vehicle, prosecutors can take one or two approaches: (1) seek enhanced
DUI with a child in the car or (2) charge the separate offense of child endangerment in addition to
the DUI charges. That separate charge, child endangerment, does involve
a presumed criminal intent, therefore it is considered a “crime
of moral turpitude” and can affect your immigration status.
Multiple DUI convictions – You can be made inadmissible if (1) you are convicted of two or
more crimes and (2) the total sentences for all the crimes upon which
you were convicted add up to five years or more.
The only way in which a single DUI conviction without aggravating factors
could affect your immigration is if you seek “naturalization,”
or wish to become a U.S. citizen. The reason being that, in order to become
an American citizen, you must show “good moral character.”
So any criminal history, including a DUI conviction, could have an impact
on an individual’s application to naturalize.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, a DUI arrest can immediately result
in immigration proceeding and potential deportation.
If you have been charged with a DUI and are an immigrant, it is critical
to hire an experienced
criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and future. At
Appel & Morse, we are committed to helping you navigate the complexities of the legal
system and get the most favorable outcome possible.
For more information,
contact us and request a free consultation today.