Does a DUI have an impact on your immigration rights?

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

If you are one of the thousands of immigrants living in Florida, you may worry about your visa, want to secure documentation or aspire to citizenship eventually. Regardless of your documentation status, getting into criminal trouble as an immigrant can cause issues for you.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the more common criminal offenses, and many times a DUI doesn’t have a victim. Quite a few people who get arrested for impaired driving don’t cause crashes, which means they didn’t hurt anyone or even damage property.

All the same, those accused or convicted of a DUI offense may worry about the implications of that charge on their immigration status. In some cases, a DUI could affect your eligibility for a visa or even lead to deportation.


When does a DUI become a big issue for an immigrant?


There is a broad rule about what criminal behavior affects your immigration rights. If you get convicted of or plead guilty to a crime of moral turpitude, that could result in the loss of your immigration status or in removal from the country. Moral turpitude means a crime that offends the morality or ethics of others.

DUI charges on their own often don’t fall into this category, but there are still risks. In situations where someone had minor children in the vehicle, caused massive property damage, hurt others or had other aggravating factors, a DUI conviction could have immigration consequences.

Repeat offenses are also a risk. The Attorney General issued a ruling on repeat DUI offenses in 2019. While a DUI is not a crime of moral turpitude, those with two or more DUI offenses may fail the test for good moral character expected of those with visas or those seeking citizenship.


Defending against the charge is your best option


If you face accusations of impaired driving and worry about your immigration status, there is still hope. It is possible to defend against impaired driving charges. Talking about the specific circumstances of your arrest with a lawyer can give you an idea about what defense options could work for you. Avoiding a conviction will usually be the best approach for someone concerned about immigration.

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