Driving While Intoxicated

Immigration Consequences of a DWI Conviction

In most instances, traffic violations are classified as administrative penalties, or misdemeanors in the most serious instances.

Examples of misdemeanor traffic violations include:

  1. Driving without a license or insurance;
  2. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  3. Leaving the scene of an accident;
  4. Vehicular homicide.

Getting a DUI comes with criminal penalties and sentencing and an administrative process involving the license revocation or suspension by the Bureau of Licensing or Department of Motor Vehicles. The criminal aspect is governed by criminal law and dictates fines, penalties, sentencing, and parole or probation. The penalty for driving without a license varies from state to state. First-time offenders ordinarily receive smaller fines, while multiple offenders might have to pay larger amounts.

A DWI conviction may affect the status of an immigrant in the United States, especially if it also involves an accident, bodily injury to others, or other aggravating factors, it might have serious immigration consequences on a non-citizen. In fact, in many States an aggravated DWI conviction is considered a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). Many states upgrade repeated charges of DUI from misdemeanor to felony status.

In addition, in most instances it is necessary to show good moral character as a prerequisite to obtaining immigration benefits, such as naturalization. Multiple DUI convictions can contribute to finding a noncitizen is a habitual drunkard. Being a habitual drunkard constitutes a statutory bar to showing Good Moral Character under INA § 101(f)(1).

In sum, there are three main immigration consequences of an aggravated DWI convictions for aliens:

  1. Inadmissibility to the United States,
  2. Denial of citizenship application, or
  3. Deportation, if the conviction is deemed a CIMT.
Speak to an experienced criminal immigration attorney if you are an immigrant and have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated.

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