The United States takes a hardline on many actions involving substance abuse. You may be aware that the court system can harshly prosecute U.S. citizens convicted of drug use or driving under the influence (DUI). This may cause you to wonder if a DUI makes you inadmissible to the U.S.
A DUI conviction can impact your admissibility status in some situations. Let’s go over when and how a DUI charge will impact your ability to enter the U.S. with this article. The Simmrin Law Group can also help you go over the impact of DUI charges on deportation proceedings.
Defining a DUI in the State of California
Before we dig into the impact of DUIs on immigration law, let’s focus on some definitions. Drivers may be charged with a DUI if they operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Generally, drivers in the U.S. are charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limits set by their state.
You may also hear DUI charges referred to as DWI charges. DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” These charges refer to the same criminal action.
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Your Admissibility into the U.S.
Individuals from outside of the country must be deemed admissible before entering the U.S. Your admissibility may be checked when you first apply for a visa. Admissibility may also be assessed once you are in the country if you need to:
- Renew your visa
- Change or adjust your status
- Return from a trip outside the country
Note that your admissibility may not be questioned each time you leave the country. Generally, this only applies if you:
- Remained outside the country for at least 180 days
- Carried out a crime before leaving the country
- Carried out a crime while outside of the country
DUI Charges and Inadmissibility to the U.S.
There are a number of criminal charges that can make you inadmissible to the U.S. A single, basic DUI conviction will generally not impact your admissibility status. However, if you have several DUI convictions you could be deemed inadmissible.
In this situation, you may be able to seek entry into the country by completing an Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (I-601 form). Note that this application cannot be completed quickly. In fact, the process may take a year to complete and it comes with a non-refundable application fee.
Note that, if you were charged with a DUI and other criminal acts, you could be denied entry to the U.S. outright.
DUI Charges and the Deportation Process
Deportation occurs when an individual who has a green card is removed from the country and forbidden from returning for a lengthy period of time. A DUI conviction could lead to deportation proceedings in some situations. Generally, you should only face deportation if you are convicted of a DUI and:
- A crime of moral turpitude, or an action that goes against social norms in some way
- A crime of violence
- A crime considered an aggravated felony, such as murder or rape
- A crime involving controlled substances
This means that getting professional help quickly after you are charged with a criminal act is very important. Successfully resolving criminal charges in California may be necessary to preserve your green card status in the country.
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DUI Charges and U.S. Citizenship
You may wish to seek U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process. Generally, the U.S. requires you to demonstrate five years of good moral character before the country will accept your application. DUIs can be held against you when assessing moral character.
However, a DUI conviction on your record does not mean you will be refused citizenship. It is generally advisable that you wait at least five years following your conviction to apply for citizenship. You may also improve your odds of demonstrating good moral character by:
- Seeking treatment for alcohol dependency
- Adhering to all of the terms of your probation
- Paying restitution as ordered by the court
Taking these steps may help the naturalization process move smoothly for you.
Handle DUI Charges in California the Right Way
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you handle DUI charges right now. Resolving DUI charges in your favor can prevent issues with admissibility into the U.S. Getting your charges dismissed or reduced can help you protect your place in the country.
The team at the Simmrin Law Group can begin working to defend you from DUI charges right now. We understand what it takes to handle your charges in and out of the courtroom. Get more information today with a FREE case evaluation. Get started by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688 to speak with a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles.