The Potential Consequences of DUI on U.S. Immigration

The consequences of DUI are not only serious for the US citizens but more severe for the non-citizens. These consequences range from jail time, loss of driving privileges, fines and most importantly resulting in removal and a possible ban on acquiring US citizenship.

An important thing to remember is that a certain type of immigration proceedings make a huge difference in terms of how the conviction may impact the immigrant. For instance, if the person is seeking permanent resident status, the application may be rejected. In the same manner, if the individual is applying for naturalization can be found with bad moral character; and in case there is no immigration proceeding, the state may consider the person to remove from the US.

Conviction of a Moral Turpitude:

The Immigration and Nationality Act holds that a person can be removed or deported from the US if there are convictions of moral turpitude. While it has to be kept in mind that despite the person has committed a crime which comes under multiple misdemeanors or felony DUI, it will not be considered as the involvement of moral turpitude. The crime will be considered of moral turpitude if it involves wrongdoings such as intentionally driving with a suspended license.

The Crime of Aggravated Felony:

If a non-citizen is convicted of an aggravated felony, the US law can deport that person. Aggravated felonies are crimes that have imprisonment sentence of one year or more. According to Leocal v. Ashcroft case 2004, the US court Supreme Court ruled that a DUI is not categorized as a crime of violence nor an aggravated felony, even though the sentence was given to the non-citizen for more than one year.

Conditions When DUI Results in Removal or Inadmissibility:

In case a DUI forms a controlled substance conviction, this can be taken as a solid grounds for removal or inadmissibility of a non-citizen. This condition takes place when a convicted person at the time of arrest was under the influence of drugs and not alcohol. But one important factor is that such crime(s) must be interpreted as a controlled substances conviction according to the federal law, and not the law of that state because state defined laws may be different than the federal laws. Since the record of the conviction can detect that the substance was involved, an immigration attorney can suggest the defendant to not to accept a plea bargain which comes under controlled substance act as well as avoids asking that alcohol to be added in the conviction record.

The Evidence of Alcoholism:

In case there is evidence of alcoholism, the Immigration and Nationality Act removes from the country or puts the bar on entering the US. However, in order for the punishment to be that severe, there need to be multiple convictions of DUI to explain the evidence. Similarly, a conviction for a DUI which caused physical harm to another party can also be taken as an evidence that the person is not in good mental or physical health and is not admissible on medical grounds.

Moral Character:

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services can take into consideration a criminal conviction against the individual seeking naturalization, that whether the person has good moral character or not. Moreover, a person who is put on probation, due to conviction, cannot be eligible for naturalization unless the probation time is over, and he or she can apply after this term is finished.

Legal Assistance:

The defendant can seek the help of immigration lawyer if he or she feels that the conviction is wrong or the crime was not severe as defined under the federal law. The attorney can help in various stages of the trial and suggest how to go further in the proceedings and what measures should be taken.