Experienced Legal Support In Immigration Law & Criminal Law

Photo of Davis M. Tyler
  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. DWIs
  4.  → Can a DUI affect an immigrant’s status?

Can a DUI affect an immigrant’s status?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | DWIs

Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are relatively common. Some people get arrested after causing crashes. Other people get arrested during traffic stops. Many drivers accused of drunk driving did not even realize they had too much to drink. There was no intent to harm others or break the law.

People plead guilty, only to face harsh consequences. DUI convictions carry a variety of penalties. Judges can imprison people, take their driver’s licenses or order them to pay fines. Sometimes, the person accused of driving while drunk is an immigrant. They might have a work visa and may worry about removal from the country.

Does a DUI conviction automatically affect someone’s immigration status?

Federal rules don’t explicitly prohibit DUIs

As of early April 2024, impaired driving convictions do not automatically affect someone’s immigration status. Lawmakers have introduced legislation that could increase potential immigration penalties for DUI convictions, but the bill has not yet come up for a vote, much less been signed into law. If it does become law, a DUI conviction could become grounds for removal or deportation. It could also prevent someone from adjusting their status to become a permanent resident.

Currently, a single DUI offense is not among the offenses that have automatic consequences for immigrants. However, someone with two or more DUI convictions could be at risk.  A first DUI might also fall into one of several categories of offenses that can affect immigrants. For example, if the state can argue that it is an offense related to addiction or habitual drunkenness, that could be reason for concern for an immigrant. Similarly, the length of the sentence imposed could potentially lead to immigration penalties.

Immigrants may also need to think about secondary consequences. Some employers have zero-tolerance policies in their employee handbooks. Any criminal conviction could be grounds for termination. A conviction could also affect professional licensing. The loss of a driver’s license might make an immigrant worker unreliable and put their job at risk.

For these reasons and many others, it is often beneficial for immigrants to respond assertively to criminal charges. Learning more about the connection between immigration and criminal law may be a smart move for recently-arrested immigrants.