Archive for July, 2013

A DWI Conviction Can Affect Your Immigration Status


Texas criminal defense attorneyAs federal lawmakers debate how to resolve immigration challenges in the United States, one aspect of the debate centers on the impact of a drunk driving conviction on your immigration status.  While the House and the Senate disagree on exactly what would be done with those convicted of drunk driving, there is no disagreement on the fact that a conviction for DWI could affect your right to become a legal U.S. citizen.  This is true both for undocumented immigrants and for people in the country with provisional legal status.

Because a drunk driving conviction could potentially lead to deportation, the stakes are especially high for those who get arrested without legal immigration status in this country or for those arrested while trying to pursue citizenship.  Getting the charges dropped or avoiding conviction could be the only way to protect your clean record that allows you to remain in the country and potentially become a citizen. A Houston DWI lawyer can assist in fighting a conviction and avoiding a felony on your record.

Drunk Driving Convictions and Immigration

Under the current immigration laws in the United States, Visa holders (and others with lawful immigration status but who are not yet U.S. citizens) could potentially be deported if they commit aggravated felonies, crimes of moral turpitude, or controlled substances offenses. While a simple DWI might not necessarily fall into any of these categories, a drunk driving conviction could become an aggravated felony if you caused a serious or fatal accident while behind the wheel drunk. Drunk driving could also potentially be considered an act of moral turpitude if the offense is committed along with other accompanying crimes such as driving drunk without a license or while on a suspended license. Repeated drunk driving convictions can also lead to potential felony charges.

Because of the potential risk of deportation, it is even more important for immigrants than for other individuals to seek legal advice if they are arrested for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. An attorney could potentially help to avoid conviction, freeing you of the anxiety of possible deportation.

If immigration laws change in the future and a path to citizenship is made possible through the new laws, then the consequences of a DWI could end up hurting you even more. The bill proposed by the House of Representatives, for example, would give law enforcement authority to deport the intoxicated driver right away. Law enforcement could either enforce federal immigration laws in the deportation or could turn the individual over to ICE.

The Senate immigration bill, however, gives illegal immigrants more legal protections, but deportation could still be a possibility for certain felony convictions and under certain circumstances.

Taking a chance with your immigration status is a bad choice and if you or a loved one is arrested for drunk driving and is not a U.S. citizen, you need to take decisive legal action right away to address the charges you face and to fight to protect your legal rights.

You need an experienced, aggressive Texas DWI lawyer.  Call 1-800-989-6839 today for your free consultation. More than 20 years experience.