Impact of DUI Pleas on a Person’s Immigration Status

A DUI in California carries consequences that may impact a person’s ability to stay in the United States of America. If you have a pending immigration status, it is extremely important that you find the right criminal defense attorney and communicate as openly as possible. While every case is different, we have tried to cover generally how a DUI (or repeat DUI) can impact your immigration status. Please do not consider this article comprehensive.

To begin, there will be different Driving Under the Influence consequences that apply to a citizen, a Green Card Holder, a Visa holder, a DACA Immigrant, and a No Status offender. This is why competent immigration and criminal defense attorneys will always ask the immigration status of their client before creating a defense plan.

Just like any other DUI, the presence of any aggregating factors is likely to escalate the sentence and conviction for the current charges. For example, were illegal drugs involved in this DUI? Has the client had any prior DUI convictions within 10 years? Has the client served more than a 5-year sentence on any previous charges? Was someone harmed or killed while the client was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? If any of these apply to your case, it’s best to consult an immigration attorney and a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The consequences could be as dire as a lifetime ban from the country.

In California, a DUI is a very serious crime and it is likely that a DUI defense plea will lead to a loss in the client’s status if he or she is not a citizen. In most cases, deportation is imminent for DUI offenders without permanent USA residency because these cases often send red flags to ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Here’s a quick guide on the severity of your DUI case, ranging from no impact at all to probable deportation:

 1st DUI offense2nd DUI Offense5 years of total sentencesDrug DUI
Green Card HoldersXXXXXXXXXX
Illegal ImmigrantsXXXXXXXXXXXXX


  XLow Impact
  XXSome Impact
  XXXSerious Impact
  XXXXSevere Impact

A visit from ICE will not always lead to immediate deportation; however, we advise DUI offenders without citizenship to prepare for the worst possible outcome. If you or someone you know is not a USA citizen and has a DUI case in the state of California, please consult with both a criminal defense attorney and an immigration attorney. Criminal Defense Hero works with and recommends Michael Ruttle, an incredible immigration attorney here in Southern California. Want to learn more? Click here.

The DUI Attorney Don Hammond


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