Russell Hebets Nov. 9, 2015

Many issues come up when someone is faced with a DUI but when you are not a permanent citizen, one of the biggest fears is deportation. 

What gets you deported? 

When a person is admitted into the US it is a conditional agreement based on a number of things, for example, having secured work, being related to someone who is a resident, or seeking asylum due to circumstances in their native country. In all these cases, the US screens for criminal records and moral character and part of the agreement to stay and work in the US is to stay out of trouble. 

The kind of trouble is the question here. In terms of immigration, an individual may be deported when a crime of moral turpitude has been committed. This is usually a felony or crime of violence such as murder, manslaughter, rape, assault, abuse, mayhem, theft or conspiracy. Therefore, in terms of deportation, a DUI with no injuries is nothing to be overly concerned about. 

But there are exceptions… 

However, DUIs may result in situations that become aggravated and that can take a turn that leads to deportation. If the DUI resulted in manslaughter or vehicular assault, then one’s residency status may be affected. Additionally, a DUI may work against an individual long term if the person has other convictions on their record. Multiple convictions on the record of someone trying to extend their work visa or become a permanent resident may affect their ‘good moral character’ requirements.

Additionally, if the DUI is marijuana related there may be problems with immigration and the federal government, as marijuana is not yet legal federally. In fact, there is some controversy brewing as to how immigrants are still treated harshly for pot related charges, when marijuana laws are changing rapidly state by state. 

A good defense makes all the difference. 

While the arrest alone on an aggravated charge can be a red flag for someone trying to stay in the US, what really matters is the conviction. Which means a good defense is imperative for avoiding that final conviction. 

As always, don’t drink or smoke and drive. But if you find yourself in a situation where you are charged with a DUI remember that you have the same rights to seek defense counsel and support through your struggle.