If you are a legal immigrant living in Texas, a drunk driving conviction could potentially lead to deportation, depending on the circumstances of your offense. If you are living in Texas without lawful permanent resident status (a green card), you could face deportation simply for a drunk driving arrest.
If you are in the process of applying for legal resident status or an extension of your visa, the U.S. government can use a DUI as a basis for denial. If you get lucky and avoid deportation after a DUI conviction, a second DUI or DWI offense could reflect on your moral character and cause you to be deported.
Which Texas DUI Crimes Can Get You Deported?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a long-held policy of allowing green card-holders to remain in the U.S. after a misdemeanor conviction, provided they satisfy their court-ordered requirements. A felony conviction, however, violates the USCIS standards for moral character.
In Texas, you will face felony DUI charges under the following circumstances:
- Having previous drunk driving convictions on your record
- Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or more
- Driving drunk with a passenger under age 15 in your car
- Driving drunk with an open alcohol container in your car
- Driving drunk without having a valid driver’s license
- Causing an accident while driving drunk
- Causing an injury accident while driving drunk (intoxication assault)
- Causing a fatal accident while driving drunk (intoxication manslaughter)
- Any drug- or marijuana-related DUI or DWI (including legal prescription medications)
These offenses, which USCIS refers to as crimes of moral turpitude or CMTs, can lead to deportation as well as the penalties they carry under Texas law.
What Are the Texas Penalties for DUI and DWI?
Depending on the nature of your DWI or DUI charges, you could face years or even decades of jail or prison time. You face substantial fines, court costs, and fees. You face the loss of your driver’s license for up to two years. The court can also order you to perform community service and report for supervised probation.
Upon conviction for a DUI in Texas, you will also have a permanent criminal record. Having a record can negatively affect the life of a U.S. citizen. For an immigrant, it can be devastating, potentially preventing you from working, extending your visa, or getting your citizenship application approved.
How Do Current Political Factors Influence DUI-Related Deportation?
Today, many lawful permanent residents of the U.S. are facing the real possibility of deportation based on factors that previously did not affect their residency. Across the country, the authorities are taking immigrants into custody for offenses they committed years or decades ago, which did not previously jeopardize their ability to reside in the U.S.
Although a first-offense, non-felony DUI or DWI conviction without aggravating circumstances did not previously pose a threat to green card-holders, that is not necessarily the case today.
Currently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports that it is detaining “removable aliens” for
- Any criminal conviction
- Any unresolved criminal charges
- Commission of any chargeable criminal offense
They also state that they will remove anyone who, in the view of an immigration officer, poses a risk to public safety.
Immigrant rights advocates report that today, they regularly see immigrants deported for even misdemeanor crimes and minor offenses.
To avoid this frightening possibility, avoiding a Texas DUI or DWI conviction may be the best way to protect your immigration status. Ideally, having the charges reduced or dismissed may keep you off the radar of those who are intent on removing even lawful immigrants in any way possible.
How Can a DWI Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
To minimize your risk of deportation, you should avoid a drunk driving conviction at all costs. A Texas DWI lawyer can help you understand the risks and explore your options.
Attorney Randy Isenberg and the legal team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg understand how frightening this experience can be, especially for immigrants. We provide aggressive criminal defense for individuals facing DUI charges in Texas. We can also assist you with the following offenses:
- Underage DUI
- Underage DWI
- Commercial DWI
- Aggravated DWI
- Intoxication assault
- Intoxication manslaughter
We can also represent you at your DMV driver’s license suspension hearing. Losing your driver’s license can make it impossible for you to work and earning a living, do your shopping, or take your family to medical appointments.
Our legal team fights to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed. If we can successfully convince the prosecutor or the court to drop the charges, you will have greater peace of mind that your immigrant status may be safe for now.
We offer a no-cost, no-obligation legal consultation to help you make the best possible decision for you and your future. Contact us today at (214) 696-9253 for help.