Foreign nationals who are charged with driving under the influence are in a unique position. Unfortunately, generally speaking, DUI is a common crime; it is therefore a common charge among foreign nationals who reside in the United States. Unlike citizens of the United States, foreign nationals have unique consequences that can apply when they are convicted of a crime. Some of these consequences include deportation and being stripped of their immigration status.
The Plea Deal
Any immigrant who pleads guilty to a crime has to do so with caution. In the seminal case of Padilla v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held that attorneys who do not advise offenders of the immigration consequences of their pleas could face an ineffective assistance of counsel inquiry. As a result of that case, attorneys who help offenders with DUI plea deals are required to inform the immigrants of the immigration consequences of their pleas. Overall, DUI is not a deportable offense. However, the circumstances of the DUI case can bring the immigrant into immigration court. DUI cases with issues of child endangerment or driving on a suspended license can be deportable offenses.
Immigrants who plead guilty to DUI charges should also consider its effect on their naturalization application. As part of the naturalization application, the 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, and 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 he or she becomes ineligible to naturalize.
An immigrant who is facing deportation due to a DUI conviction can avoid deportation by receiving a pardon. The pardon must come from the governor or some kind of parole review board. It must be a full pardon with no conditions attached. An immigrant who is facing deportation can avoid deportation by receiving a pardon. The pardon must come from the governor or some kind of parole review board. It must be a full pardon with no conditions attached. Although this mechanism is beneficial to the immigrant, it can be a lengthy process. At the same time, if an immigrant's status will be affected by a DUI charge, he or she should consider and explore this option.
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 is DUI defense strategies tailored to 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.
See related blog posts:
Inside the DUI Plea Bargaining Process
Does Your Employer Care About Your DUI Conviction?