A criminal conviction is likely detrimental to your U.S. immigration status. With respect to a DUI, there are three main consequences of conviction for non-citizens — deportation, denial of admissibility into the United States, and denial of citizenship. These consequences arise depending on the immigration benefit for which the defendant is applying. In addition, the number of DUI convictions matters in the legal analysis that will determine whether or not an individual is inadmissible (not eligible to enter the U.S.)
Crime of Moral Turpitude
In certain removal cases, an immigration court must determine whether a DUI committed by a non-citizen amounts to a crime of moral turpitude. A crime of moral turpitude is a deportable offense for the purposes of immigration law. Such a crime is corrupt, depraved, or degenerate. It refers to conduct that generally “shocks the public conscience.” This includes offenses such as murder, kidnapping, robbery, and aggravated assault. This is because the crime involves some kind of mental component whereby the actor must premeditate his or her actions. On the other hand, DUI does not necessarily include mental aforethought given the inebriated state of the actor's mind. DUI can amount to a crime of moral turpitude when child endangerment is involved or where an actor knowingly drives on a suspended license.
Immigrants who plead guilty to DUI charges should also consider the effect on their naturalization applications. As part of the naturalization application, an immigrant will have to disclose all criminal charges and traffic violations that are of a serious nature. A pattern of DUI offenses can cause an immigration officer to conclude a pattern of alcoholism or a lack of good moral character, which is a concept that is tested in all naturalization cases. Therefore, even though the immigrant is not deportable, the naturalization application can be denied on a discretionary basis as a result of the DUI offenses. This can leave the immigrant in legal limbo whereby they become ineligible to naturalize.
Your DUI Attorney
Attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney with years of experience defending DUI cases. Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime. If you have been charged with DUI, you need an experienced attorney. Attorney Ferguson is well-versed in DUI defense strategies and is ready to take on your unique case, even if you are a foreign national. Attorney Ferguson understands the importance of putting the charge behind you and ensuring that you are informed of all possible consequences. Call us now for a consultation.