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Will a DUI stop me from becoming a U.S. Citizen?

will a dui affect my citizenship

DUI and Your Citizenship

For obvious reasons, driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a serious charge anywhere in the world. In the state of California, it is no different. For individuals who are not yet U.S. citizens, a DUI charge could prevent you from becoming a citizen or lead to deportation, especially if you don’t have an experienced Orange County DUI attorney to fight for you.

The good news is that, in the state of California, DUI convictions are not categorized as deportable or inadmissible crimes. This means that an ordinary DUI charge does not lead to automatic deportation.

California Law

In October 2013, Governor Brown signed a bill permitting undocumented individuals to obtain drivers’ licenses in California. This was a significant achievement for undocumented people’s rights within the state. The new law also means that if a licensed undocumented immigrant is stopped for being under the influence, they can be charged with a DUI just like any other driver.

If you are a non-citizen of the United States and have been charged with a DUI, the first thing you will need is professional and knowledgeable representation by your side. Don’t panic and get yourself an expert Orange County DUI attorney right away!

Getting a DUI Causes Lots of Problems with Your Ability to Drive

What happens if I get a DUI as a non-citizen?

As soon as you have been arrested for a DUI, the DMV begins the process of suspending your license. That’s why it’s essential to act quickly, especially since the consequences of a DUI conviction are different for non-citizens than citizens. Here are three main immigration categories and the potential punishments for DUI associated with each:

  • Visa holders

If you receive a misdemeanor DUI charge, it will likely not affect your immigration status. However, if your conviction is more serious, such as being connected to a felony, you could face immediate deportation. It’s important to note that you will be unable to leave the state of California until your case is completely resolved.

  • Green Card holders

Once convicted of a DUI, your green card status hinges on the details of the case. If your DUI charge is linked to substance abuse other than alcohol; if you are accused of child endangerment (there was a child present in the car); or if the charge was linked to another crime such as rape, murder, or drug trafficking, you will find yourself going through deportation proceedings. In most misdemeanor DUI cases, however, your green card status will not be affected.

  • Undocumented immigrants

Although it may not lead to automatic deportation, one DUI conviction—even a misdemeanor—can be enough to hinder you from obtaining a green card or becoming a U.S citizen in the future.

When searching for an expert DUI lawyer for a non-citizen DUI case, keep the following in mind:

  • Track record and experience

Not only will you need representation with experience in these matters, but you will also need someone who consistently manages to avoid deportation for their non-citizen clients.

  • Specialist

Although some lawyers are experienced in criminal law, they may not have the understanding of what really goes into DUI cases. Specialist DUI lawyers understand the DUI court process and the DMV. Not only can they help you avoid getting deported or landing a lengthy prison sentence, but they may also be able to assist you with keeping your license (depending on the specific circumstances of your case).

DUI Attorneys in Orange County

An experienced DUI lawyer can help you avoid more serious convictions and can play an important role in making sure that you don’t find yourself going through deportation procedures. As soon as you are charged with a DUI, remember to obtain qualified representation.

The Law Offices of Chad Maddox specializes in DUI for Orange County and all of California. We have been exclusively practicing DUI and DMV law for over 16 years, and hold the upper hand over any other criminal attorney in Orange County. Contact Chad today for a free consultation.