Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney | DUI Convictions and Immigration

Driving Under the Influence & Immigration Consequences

One issue that Broward DUI Lawyer William Moore sees while representing all kinds of clients is the possibility that a criminal offense or conviction for a crime can have consequences on the immigration status of a foreign-born individual. Many crimes can have immigration consequences. This includes even minor offenses such as petit theft.
Often, immigrants who have status — for example asylum, refugee status, a green card, or temporary protected status — wrongly assume that an arrest will not have a negative impact on their ability to remain in the United States lawfully, continuing to work, pay taxes, and contribute more generally to society. Likewise, those who lack lawful status in the United States may think that because they are already illegal, whether due to their method of entry into the country or staying longer than the period authorized, may incorrectly think that they cannot worsen or aggravate the situation. Neither assumption is correct.
Generally speaking, driving under the influence does not have adverse consequences for immigration, although there are notable exceptions. One of the most important is Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. Having one felony conviction or two misdemeanor offenses can be a problem for obtaining or renewing TPS. It is vital for immigrants to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer any time they are arrested due to the complex, technical, and often-changing nature of the immigration laws. Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer William Moore can assist clients with their individual needs.
In criminal law in the state of Florida, a conviction occurs when a person is found ‘guilty’. However, in immigration law, a conviction is more broad. For example, an admission of the essential elements of a crime can have the same effect as a true conviction. Further, a withhold of adjudication is treating the same as a regular conviction.
Perhaps most important for driving under the influence and immigrant issues is the need to ensure that a person who does not have lawful status does not remain in jail. If he does, it is common to get an immigration detainer (“ICE hold”) that will result in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court and frequently actualy deportation. There are competing interests, then: although a person may have a decent shot at winning his case at trial, if he has an offer from the State Attorney that does not include jail time, it may be advantageous (where it would not be in other cases) to avoid the detainer.
This article is not intended to represent any particular position; instead, it is a recognition of a criminal defense attorney’s duty (especially following recent Supreme Court case law) to look out for other consequences besides criminal punishment.