Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime in California. In addition to jail time and fines, a DUI conviction can have a major impact on your life. But once your sentence is served, you have the opportunity to move on with your life. Non-U.S. citizens may not have that opportunity.

If you are a non-citizen convicted of certain DUI crimes, you need to know that a DUI conviction could be a deportable offense under certain circumstances. You could find yourself in hot water with federal immigration officials and you could be facing deportation from the country.

Can I Be Deported For a First-Time DUI Offense?

Deportation
Can you be deported for DUI charges?

Non-citizens will not face immigration consequences for any of the following first-time DUI-related convictions:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a);
  • Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b);
  • DUI causing injury under California Vehicle Code Section 23153;
  • Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under California Vehicle Code Section 191.5(b); and
  • Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under California Vehicle Code Section 191.5(a).1

These DUI offenses will not lead to immigration consequences because they are not considered “deportable” or “inadmissible” crimes under the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

Crimes Considered “Deportable” or “Inadmissible” under the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act

Under the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act, crimes considered “deportable” include:

  • Crimes involving “moral turpitude;”
  • Aggravated felonies – crimes that carry a sentence of more than one year in state prison, including murder, rape and theft; and
  • Crimes involving drugs.

Crimes considered “inadmissible” (crimes that would make you inadmissible into the United States) include:

  • Crimes involving “moral turpitude;”
  • Crimes involving drugs; and
  • Convictions for two or more crimes where the total prison sentences equal five years or more.2

A crime involving “moral turpitude” is generally defined as a crime that involves dishonesty, fraud, antisocial behavior that is harmful to others, or conduct that is not acceptable for persons living in society.

First-time DUI offenses are not considered crimes of “moral turpitude” because they do not show intent to commit a crime or intent to be criminally reckless. A first-time standard DUI only proves that you drove a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol of drugs or alcohol, not with the intent to drive drunk, injure someone or commit a crime.

What DUI Offenses Can Result in Deportation?

Some DUI offenses can lead to deportation for many non-U.S. citizens. Non-citizens can face immigration consequences for the following DUI crimes because they have been determined to involve “moral turpitude:”

  • DUI while driving on a suspended license (the suspended license can be the result of a past DUI charge);
  • Driving under the influence of drugs;
  • DUI in connection with child endangerment charges;
  • Repeat DUI offenses; and
  • DUI in addition to being convicted of other crimes3

Multiple DUI convictions could lead to you being considered “inadmissible” to the U.S. under the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

For example, you are a non-citizen convicted of DUI four times. The second, third and fourth DUI convictions have resulted in jail sentences of a total of five years. Under the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act, you are now “inadmissible” into the United States and will be deported after the fourth sentence is served.

Call the DUI Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are a non-citizen facing DUI charges, you need to know that you could be deported if you are convicted, depending on the circumstances of your case. That is why it is important to retain the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately. Our skilled DUI attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending persons charged with DUI for over 30 years. Our attorneys have the knowledge necessary to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our experienced attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


1. Deportation and Driving: Felony DUI and Reckless Driving as Crimes of Violence following Leocal v. Ashcroft, Spring 2006, http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/jclc/

2. Crimes That Will Make an Immigrant Deportable, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/crimes-that-will-make-immigrant-deportable.html

3. Id.

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