Can a DUI be a Reason for Deportation Under New Immigration Policy of President’s Donald Trump ?

February 15, 2017

Can a DUI be a Reason for Deportation

In this article, DUI Defense Lawyer discusses DUI as a Reason for Deportation. Click on the links below to go directly to your topic of interest.

Jersey Vargas is a 13-year-old girl who is now fighting for her father, an undocumented immigrant. He was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in 2014. Her father is the only breadwinner and his deportation will bring family into poverty. In Los Angeles, there are more than 1 million of undocumented immigrants now who live in fear of deportation. Their families are very worried about such consequences.

Mr. Trump’s Deportation Plan and DUI Consequences

President Donald Trump recently said in his interview that he’s going to deport undocumented immigrants who are criminals or have criminal records. It’s been part of his election plan to make such people leave the USA. He says they will tighten measures to send off as many as 3 million illegal immigrants. Many immigration experts are not sure that things are different now.  Mr. Trump is continuing Obama’s administration policy on the deportation of people who committed crimes.  Previous administration managed to deport more than 200,000 immigrants, among them – 59 percent are convicted criminals.

The problem the immigrants are facing nowadays is that they can’t get the immigration court hearing on time. Courts have a busy schedule and are failing to make timely decisions. There are not enough judges, clerks, and lawyers to help all those requesting immigration hearings. There are plenty of people who came to this country to seek asylum but they can’t get immigration hearings for years after applying.  This could create a great obstacle for President Trump’s deportation plan.  Mr. Trump stated he would nominate Senator Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General for the United States. Mr. Sessions is known for his active position on all immigration enforcement issues. He would probably appoint new inflexible and uncompromising immigration judges and also make changes in the deportation system.  These factors can complicate the court hearing process for potential immigrants.

California opposed Trump’s plan to deport illegal immigrants by adopting SB-54, a sanctuary law that prohibits state law enforcement not to use resources to help deportation.  The statutes are codified in Government Code sections 7284.    For example, CGC 7284.6 prohibits California law enforcement from asking anyone about his immigration status.

If you are found guilty of a DUI you face two types of punishment – administrative and criminal. Administrative punishment affects your driver’s license and can get your license suspended or revoked. Criminal punishment can result in being found guilty of a crime and receive punishment through the criminal justice system, such as jail time, probation, fines, community service, etc.

Most drunk driving cases are treated as misdemeanors, which is a lower level offense level in California. Misdemeanors are crimes that can be punished up to 364 days in the county jail. If a crime carries more jail time then that, it is considered a felony. The traditional view is that less serious crimes should be punished less severely. Yet, a criminal conviction is a criminal conviction and a DUI conviction will show on your permanent record. This record could affect your future life in many ways, such as when applying for jobs, or for a license, or even getting some forms of financial aid. A DUI conviction in your background record is a potential reason for potential employers to deny employment.

DUI Conviction and Criminal Record

Some states do not view a first DUI as a criminal offense, but this is not the case in California. In California, a DUI is considered a criminal offense, and not simply a traffic offense or a civil violation.  California can look at DUI as a minor offense but in some cases, it is considered a very serious crime.

In California DUI case stay on the driving record for 10 years, and it is part of your criminal record forever. After ten years a DUI can not be used a prior so that another DUI received after ten years will be considered a “first offense DUI”. But even after ten years, if you are applying for a job, an employer can do a background check and see the conviction. Almost all application forms have the section checking your criminal background. Often the request focuses on felonies but even misdemeanor convictions can be considered. Also, for purposes of many immigration benefits, DUI is considered a serious misdemeanor and can cause a denial of benefits and deportation.

The good news is that according to California Labor Code section 432.7, private employer or organization can ask only for the record which resulted in a conviction. Also, you may try to expunge DUI from your record, i.e. it will be removed from your criminal history. It’s possible to do under the following conditions:

  • if you served all the probationary terms;
  • if you did not serve time in state prison;
  • if you are not charged with any other criminal offenses at the moment.

If you meet all these requirements a DUI attorney can help you expunge your DUI case from the criminal record. This will help with employment, yet, the expungement will not delete the offense, only show that it was dismissed under PC 1203.4

Having an experienced lawyer to represent you in court increases your chances of winning your case.  Statistical analysis is clear:  detained immigrants’ chances of fighting deportation increased when they are represented by an attorney.  California already spends more than $30 million to help immigrants get legal help to remain in the USA.

Immigration Consequences of a DUI:

A DUI conviction is not deportable – but it can indirectly cause deportation because it will disqualify you from an immigration benefit, cause a denial of an immigration bond, or prevent you from establishing a good moral character.

EXAMPLE: You were detained by ICE and want to fight your deportation.  The Immigration judge denies your request for an immigration bond because you have an old DUI conviction.

EXAMPLE: You have DACA and you get arrested and convicted of a DUI.  DACA is denied upon renewal because of a DUI conviction.

EXAMPLE: You are applying for asylum based on persecution in your home country.  Your asylum application is denied because of a DUI conviction in the US.

Where Can an Undocumented Immigrant with a DUI Conviction Get Help in California? 

President Trump’s immigration campaign faced serious opposition in California.  In California, 40% of residents are of Latino descent.  Even several members of the legislature are immigrants or children of immigrants.  In 2017 California’s mainly Democratic legislature passed SB-54 which prohibits California law enforcement from using resource to help immigration officials.  They are working on further proposals to protect undocumented immigrants and their families and to resist Trump’s immigration policy.  For example, California can offer free legal help during deportation proceedings and additional support in criminal court hearings. They also suggest for the state to arrange public funds to cover expenses for immigrant trials on deportation.

Some police chiefs reassured the public, that they will not cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security to help people get deported.   In fact, GC specifically says that California Law Enforcement is prohibited from Detaining an individual on the basis of an immigration hold request.  In the past, immigration enforcement would fax a detainer, known as immigration form I-247, that would request a hold to be placed on a detained person.  Most police agencies would place a hold and not release detainee until the hold is lifted or until ICE picks him up.

Other cities are trying to fight SB-54 by passing ordinances of their own against SB-54.  We think such local ordinances can not be enforced because they conflict with California state law.  California is one of the very few states that offer great post-position relief remedied to immigrants and even  California driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Los Angeles DUI Attorney

(818) 921 7744  We provide a free consultation to discuss your options. 


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23 responses to “Can a DUI be a Reason for Deportation Under New Immigration Policy of President’s Donald Trump ?”

  1. Sam says:

    Hi, I’ve a question wrt new laws. I’ve a had a DUI (0.091)almost five years ago to this March 24 in nevada. Did my court recommended fines , class all the stuff. Im on h1 visa.Got stamped in India after i got tests done as required by consulate…. Are DUI convicted like me are in consideration for deport n detainment??? Can u adcise


    • admin says:

      believe it is unlikely but unfortunately possible. For a non-immigration visa, the US Consulate can cancel any visitors visa (See 22 CFR 41.122). Personally, I have seen student and visitors visa revoked because of a DUI conviction but not HB1.

  2. Reddy says:

    I had my first (and last) DUI conviction 9 years back. I served all as per court order. I travelled back and forth to multiple conutries. Every time i enter i have been sent to secondary inpsection and they cleared after big wait small check. I am on green card. even though it is little bit anxious wait while entering US everytime, everything is fine and smooth.

    Now it is Trump’s era. Will I face any problem if i leave the country while entering ? I am in lot of tention planning the trip to visit my sick father who is on the bed…

    • admin says:

      You should not be facing your problems unless you are a citizen of one of the countries that Trump selected for his ban. Getting citizenship should solve all of your problems with the secondary inspection as well.

  3. Ron says:

    I have gotten my green card in april 2017. I had a dui not a felony charge in 2007. I have gotten the dui expunged in may 2017. Will i be in any trouble when i am returning to the usa .

  4. Cobus says:

    Hi I’m a South African working in North Dakota with a h2a visa I got a DUI I blow 0.152 wats going to happen with my working visa

  5. Adriana says:

    What happens to someone who got a DUI and during the background check, an order of deportation is active ?

    • Adriana, Local law enforcement agencies usually don’t enforce US immigration law. That being said, sometimes, some law enforcement agencies will notify ICE and detain you pending ICE arrival and certain deportation.

  6. Sul says:

    Hi, I got a DUI in state of Maine last month (Sept 2017). This is my first offense and my arraignment date is in Nov. Can I still travel outside US? The PD didn’t take my fingerprints or photo but they did take my DL and SSN.
    PS: I’m holding H1B visa

    • Unfortunately, my office in located in Los Angeles and I am licensed in California State only. I would recommend that you contact a local DUI defense attorney. Keep in mind that the H1B visa and any other non-immigrant visa can be revoked by the State Department under 22 CFR 41.122. Because of that, I would take this DUI very seriously.

  7. Bril says:

    Hi I’m a green card holder got my second dui in nj no accident no injuries am planning to travel will there be any problems returning

    • I am not sure if you mean arrests or convictions; but, probably not any more then you already have because of your first DUI. However, I would be very concerned an consult with an attorney ASAP for the following reasons. First, multiple DUIs on your record might cause some immigration officer to think that you have a problem with alcohol and that is a separate ground for deportation as a “habitual drunkard”. Sometimes, (especially when DUIs are close in time) CIS will ask you to submit to a physical and mental examination to see if you are deportable. ICE officers at the border might ask you questions about the DUI which can be difficult to answer and which can cause future problems. Lastly, your border crossing into the US will most likely take longer because those DUI cause you to be diverted for a secondary inspection. Therefore, I recommend that you talk to a lawyer in New Jersey to attempt to defend your DUI if you have not already done so. Minimizing record (by getting dismissals or alternative charges) can make a huge difference for you in your immigration status as well as in other areas.

  8. Jay says:

    Hi, I have been a permanent resident in US since before 1990. I traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2016 for less than a week and when returning they Immigration Security confiscated me Permanent resident card due to my criminal record back from the early 2000s. Which I had already cleared, no warrants. They issued me a temporary evidence of permanent resident card. I am now trying to fight my case from being deported. I unfortunately, got arrested for DUI in March of this year. My last DUI was 12 years ago. All cases are in the state of CA. Am I in danger of being deported because of this DUI?

    • The short answer is yes, you can be deported because of a DUI. The specifics will depend on the status of your immigration case and the relief available to you. Also, because immigration law often changes, you can be subject to removal in the future even when you are not deportable today. I would recommend hiring an attorney to defend you in the DUI case.

  9. Nemo says:

    Hello, I have been arrested for DUI in Hawaii (I am resident of California) and it is my first DUI offense. I have retained an attorney to defend me in Hawaii but I would like to know if I need or if I am going to need an attorney in California as well? Also I am legal permanent resident for 12 years with no priors of any kind. I need to travel for work so I am wondering if returning back to US could be a problem? I have no convictions, just arrest and DUI case is in process in Hawaii. Thank you.

    • Nemo, Most likely you will not need an attorney in California. However, because a DUI involves both, a defense at the DMV and defense at the Court, you can need an attorney in California if your DMV record is not showing accurately what happened in your Hawaiian case. For example, if you are acquitted of the DUI in Hawaii, but California DMV suspends your license, you need an attorney to correct that. The DMV is known to make mistakes, so I encourage you to check your record after your case is over. Hope it helps. Sincerely, Alex.

  10. saiya says:

    Hi Im a permanent resident.. in 2019 I will apply for citizenship but I have a DUI from 2013 I just paid a fine and did the classes to get back my lincese but do to trumps changes on inmigration Im thinking on just renew my green card..should go with citizenship I will get deported or should go with renewing green card could mean denial and deported ????
    Thank you so very much for your advice in advance

    • A DUI is not considered to be a deportable offense for a green card holder with most people who have green cards getting citizenship despite DUI. If you are currently on probation you cannot get citizenship and must wait until probation expires. Also, try not to violate probation, as this is considered to be somewhat of a problem.

  11. luis orellana says:

    Hi am a permanent resident. in 2016 i got arrested for a dui. i had a dui violation 18 years ago. I was by some miracle of GOD able to get this new charge reduced to a violation in NY. So i didnt get a misdemeanor. is this going to be an issue leaving the country. I already get a second inspection when i come in the country but there is never any issues. please advice. thank you

  12. Millie Hue says:

    Thanks for helping me understand that this case can make you stay in jail for such a time if found guilty. With that in mind, I will be hiring a lawyer for my dad since I don’t want him to stay in jail. He just got into an accident this evening when his brakes had a problem while having a little drink from a pub he went to.

  13. Liz says:

    Hi, I’m under DACA and I was arrested last year and convicted this year in March with my first DUI. My boyfriend and I are planning to get married and I was wondering if there will be any problem with my trying to become a US citizen?

  14. Mayra says:

    I got a wet and reckless about a year and 5 months ago. I already pay all the fines and all the requirements by the court. I have a green card, I’m planning on going to Mexico will I have problems coming back to USA?