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Can I Be Deported for DWI?


Are you a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) who’s facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges? If so, you could be very worried that a DWI conviction can lead to deportation, otherwise known as removal proceedings. If you plan on applying for U.S. citizenship you could be thinking, “Can this ruin my chance of becoming a U.S. citizen?”

Can a DWI lead to removal proceedings? Yes, it can, but that’s not guaranteed. It depends on your personal circumstances and the facts of the DWI case. Generally, a first-time DWI will NOT trigger removal proceedings, but it can under the following circumstances:

  • It was a felony DWI because someone else was seriously injured or killed.
  • It was a felony DWI because it was your third DWI offense.
  • You were previously convicted of marijuana possession but the immigration judge was lenient with you.
  • It was a drug-related DWI; for example, you were driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, LSD, mushrooms, or another controlled substance.
  • You have a history of multiple criminal convictions, even if they were misdemeanors.

If this was your first alcohol-related DWI offense and you do not have a criminal record and no one was injured or killed, the DWI should not trigger removal proceedings. On the other hand, if it was a drug-related DWI, a felony DWI, or if you have been convicted of other crimes too many times in the past, it is possible that this DWI can affect your immigration status.

Criminal Behavior & Deportation

In order for a Green Card holder to live and work in the United States, he or she must be a person of “good moral character.” If a permanent resident engages in criminal behavior, he or she faces the possibility of deportation.

Under Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), it lists the “general classes of deportable aliens.” While there are too many deportable offenses to list here, we can say that drug crimes, domestic violence, fraud, sexual assault, robbery, burglary, violent crimes, and multiple criminal convictions can all lead to removal proceedings.

Facing criminal charges in Denton? Contact us today for a FREE consultation.

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