If you’re an immigrant to the U.S., especially if you’re undocumented, it’s understandable you’d ask yourself the question, “Can I be deported legally for a DWI?”
First: A DWI or DUI can be a serious matter. If you were arrested for driving under the influence, you should consider consulting with an attorney immediately. A DWI/DUI conviction will not necessarily result in your deportation. There are circumstances where a conviction could lead to deportation proceedings.
When Could You Face Deportation Consequences for a DUI or DWI?
Often an arrest—any arrest—could flag ICE’s attention. Anticipate that if you are arrested for a DUI, immigration officials will know about it.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines what infractions and crimes could instigate deportation procedures of an undocumented immigrant. Here’s a list of crimes that, along with a DUI, could trigger deportation.
Convictions That Could Lead to Deportation with a DUI/DWI Charge
- A crime of moral turpitude within five years of admission into the U.S., or 10 of legal permanent resident status
- One or more criminal convictions of “crimes involving moral turpitude.”
- Crime involving controlled substances
- At least one aggravated felony conviction
Felony convictions include but aren’t limited to:
- Violent crimes
- Drug possession
- Domestic Violence
On its own, a DUI or DWI charge is not considered a crime of moral turpitude. The specific circumstances of your case will determine whether or not your particular case will fall into one of the categories in that list. An immigration judge could have the discretion to charge you to be deported… or not.
Can You Be Legally Deported for a DWI/DUI if You Have a Visa?
The short answer is: Yes.
If your U.S. visa is current and you are arrested, there is some risk that your visa could be revoked without a conviction. That doesn’t mean that you’ll get deported immediately after being arrested for a DUI or DWI.
Your visa remains valid until its expiration date. If it’s revoked, it’s no longer valid for future travel. Under those circumstances, if you have to travel, you will need to reapply for a new visa before being permitted reentry into the country. If that DUI turns into a conviction, that could be used as grounds to refuse your reentry.
DUI Cases Vary Wildly Depending on Your Circumstances
How your case is treated in court usually depends on the circumstances around your arrest.
There are many factors the court may consider, including:
- If it’s your first offense
- If you’re a minor
- Whether or not there was any property damage
- If you are suspected of committing any other crimes like possession of a controlled substance.
- If there was bodily damage or injury, or, worst of all, a fatality
Are DWIs and DUIs the Same Thing?
States simply use different abbreviations and terms to mean the same thing. DWI is used as shorthand within multiple states to stand for “driving while intoxicated.” For example, in Colorado, the courts use DUI to mean “driving under the influence” or DWAI for “driving while ability impaired.” In Colorado, law enforcement has the right to request consent to take a blood, breath, saliva, or urine test when they suspect that you may be intoxicated.
If you refuse to comply with the request, that refusal can be admissible in court as a basis to revoke your license.
When you are tested, and if you show a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) of .15% or higher, you might be classified as a persistent drunk driver. Colorado law currently allows for up to one year of jail time for a first offense, depending on the circumstances. If you have multiple DUIs in your history, it could be longer.
How Can I Protect My Status If I Was Arrested for Drunk Driving?
A felony drunk driving conviction is serious for anyone. It’s especially serious for undocumented immigrants or green card holders. If you’re in this situation, you need an immigration attorney who handles thousands of cases, and knows how to get you the best outcome possible.
At Novo legal, we are specialists in both DUI convictions and immigration law. Our legal advocates are standing by to help you determine the best course of action for undocumented Americans and visa holders. Please schedule a consultation or call us today and let us know how we can help you.
Charged with a DUI and want to know how much an attorney will cost to defend you? Take a look at our article on how much an attorney costs.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.