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How does a DUI conviction affect your immigration status?

If you’re in the United States as an immigrant, then you know that the risk of deportation is always looming over you. Even though that may drive you to live on the straight and narrow, abiding every law that you’re aware of, you can still find yourself on the receiving end of allegations of criminal wrongdoing. And when these accusations fly, you may end up facing the very real possibility of deportation.

Can you be deported for DUI?

It really depends on the circumstances of your case. So, the answer is that a DUI conviction may or may not lead to deportation. Although you can be removed for crimes of moral turpitude that occur within five or 10 years of entry, depending on your status, or if you’ve been convicted of two crimes of moral turpitude, drunk driving, on its own, isn’t considered a crime of moral turpitude. Instead, immigration officials are going to assess the circumstances of your case to determine if your situation qualifies for removal.

In other circumstances, your drunk driving conviction will render you inadmissible. This means that although you won’t be deported, you may be denied reentry into the United States if you leave for some reason. The type of action taken against you, if any, really depends on the unique characteristics of your case.

What factors will be taken into consideration?

When the immigration court considers whether to deport you, it’s going to look at a number of factors. This includes each of the following:

  • Your criminal history, if any
  • Whether any other drugs were involved in the incident
  • Whether you’re accused of committing any other crimes
  • Whether your actions resulted in property damages, personal injury, or death

Therefore, when the court assesses your case, it’s going to look at the severity of the crime and your history. If you’re convicted of something like DUI with a child in the car or driving under the influence of drugs, then you’re more likely to be subjected to removal proceedings.

What’s your best course of action?

Again, it really depends on the circumstances. However, you may take comfort knowing that most DUI convictions don’t lead to deportation. This is because the crime, by itself, is not considered a crime of moral turpitude, and many DUI offenses are charged as a misdemeanor.

That said, you still need to protect your interests as fully as possible. This means assessing your criminal defense options and choosing the one that is best for you. If the evidence being presented against you is questionable, then you might be able to take your case to trial to try to beat the charges and avoid any penalties and negative impact on your immigration status. If, on the other hand, the evidence is insurmountable, then you’ll want to think about whether a plea bargain is the best way to avoid the harshest penalties and protect your immigration status. An experienced attorney can help you understand your options.

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