What are the consequences of a DUI for immigrants? Privileges for immigrants have been expanding recently. Perhaps most notably in California, where a law was just signed allowing undocumented immigrants living in California to be eligible to apply for driver's licenses, Reuters reports.
However, these privileges are not without consequences. If a non-citizen is convicted of a DUI, the results may look very different for an immigrant as opposed to a U.S. citizen. Here's a breakdown of what immigration consequences may come from a DUI for three immigration categories:
DUI on a Green Card
While getting a DUI as a green card holder is obviously not preferred, it will likely not affect your immigration status as a green card holder. Your case may differ, and the specific extent of your immigration consequences largely depends on the circumstances. For example, you could be categorized as "inadmissible" if your DUI is linked to or infers any type of substance abuse. Being labeled "inadmissible" could prevent your ability to re-enter the U.S.
Also, if the DUI was related to a ground of deportability, such as a crime of moral turpitude (e.g. rape, murder, arson, or even drug trafficking), then this will likely place you in immigration court for removal proceedings.
DUI on a Visa
An immigrant visa is different from a green card -- there is usually a designated expiration date on a visa, whereas a green card allows you to stay in the country indefinitely. If you're convicted of a DUI while in the U.S. on a visa, be prepared to face the criminal penalties of the laws of the United States.
It is also likely that you'll be unable to leave until your criminal case is fully adjudicated. Any conviction resulting from a DUI case may also affect your admissibility status in the future.
DUI While Undocumented
Getting a DUI as an undocumented immigrant comes with many of the same consequences as one would face if he or she is was in the U.S. on a green card. While one misdemeanor conviction will not immediately result in deportation, it can still create consequences and complications in the long run. This includes threatening one's inadmissibility status or raising a red flag regarding one's moral character determination during a naturalization interview -- assuming one ever reaches eligible status to apply for citizenship.
DUIs carry dire consequences even for citizens -- as an immigrant with a DUI, the matter is even more complicated. If you are facing a potential DUI and are concerned about your status, be sure to contact a local, experienced attorney who can help you sort out your options.
- Warning: Drunk Driving May be Hazardous to Your Immigration Status (FindLaw)
- California DUI Laws (FindLaw)
- How Does a Felony Affect Immigration Status? (FindLaw)
- The Green Card Process: Do's and Don'ts (FindLaw)