Can a DUI Trigger Removal Proceedings?

Are you a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) who was recently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)? If so, perhaps you are wondering if a DUI conviction could place you into removal proceedings. This is a reasonable concern indeed.

If you were arrested for DUI and this was your first criminal offense and there were no aggravating factors, the odds are you won’t be deported. However, under certain circumstances, a California DUI can be a red flag to an immigration judge and cause the Green Card holder to be deported from the United States.

When can a DUI trigger removal proceedings?

  • DUI of drugs,
  • DUI involving serious bodily injury,
  • DUI causing death to another person,
  • DUI while driving on a suspended license,
  • DUI and child endangerment; for example, you were driving under the influence and had a child in the car,
  • Multiple DUIs, or
  • A DUI conviction on top of another criminal conviction.

Let’s say that Jose is a Mexican national and has a Green Card. He is convicted of a simple misdemeanor DUI and his California driver license is suspended – this has no impact on his immigration status. However, while Jose’s driver license is suspended, he goes to a family barbeque, has six beers and drives home with his wife and kids in the car.

This time, Jose is convicted of DUI, driving on a suspended license and child endangerment. Now, Jose has to worry about his permanent resident status because he drove while intoxicated on a suspended license, and while his young children were in the car.

Jose faces deportation because driving on a suspended license and child endangerment are considered “crimes of moral turpitude,” which could result in deportation.

Drug-Related DUIs

While most simple alcohol-related DUIs won’t have immigration consequences, a conviction for driving under the influence of drugs (DUI of drugs) is a different story. Under 8 U.S. Code § 1227, deportable aliens, and the Immigration Nationality Act (INA), any alien admitted to the United States shall be removed if they violate any state or federal law relating to a controlled substance.

In other words, if a Green Card holder is convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana or another drug, he or she could be deported because it was a “controlled substance” offense.

Criminal History's Impact on Naturalization

A single DUI without aggravating factors can affect your ability to become a U.S. citizen because you must demonstrate “good moral character.” Thus, any criminal history, including a California DUI could affect the naturalization process.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to work with one of the top DUI defense firms in the area. Call now to schedule a free case evaluation!

Related: Can a DUI Lead to Deportation?

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