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Effect of Arizona DUI Conviction on Immigration Status

According to the U.S. Census, there are approximately 6,482,505 people living in Arizona. Over 360,000 of them are legal aliens and illegal immigrants. In 2011, there were 27,125 DUI arrests in Arizona. It’s likely that some of those arrests involved non-U.S. citizens. The effects of getting a DUI are more severe for people who are non-citizens than citizens.

If you are convicted of your first DUI in Arizona, you will face mandatory jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, a suspended driver’s license, and you will be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. If you are a non-citizen, the consequences for you will be even more severe. It’s possible your misdemeanor DUI conviction could result in your deportation or in you not becoming a citizen in the United States.

Under what Circumstances can you be Deported because of a DUI?

You can be deported for a DUI conviction if the Unites States Citizenship and Naturalization Services determines that your DUI was a crime that involved moral turpitude or a violent crime under the immigration laws. A regular DUI is usually not a crime that involves moral turpitude but there could be aggravating factors such as getting a DUI while your driver’s license is suspended. If you get an aggravated DUI in Arizona, that is a felony charge which could have other ramifications on your ability to reside in the United States.

What are some of the other Ramifications of getting a DUI?

Having a DUI on your record could result in your being labeled as having a bad moral character during your naturalization interview. This could affect whether you become a naturalized citizen.

Can you be Deported if you have a Green Card and get a DUI?

Possibly. If you have a green card, you can be deported if you are convicted of two or more crimes that involve moral turpitude, a drug-related crime, or an aggravated felony. A judge could decide that a felony drunk driving conviction qualifies as an aggravated felony. If you get a DUI due to drug use, that would be a drug-related crime.

Can you Avoid Deportation by Pleading “No Contest?”

No. Immigration law treats convictions and pleas of nolo contendere the same as long as you receive some type of punishment as a result.

What if I Lie about my DUI History on my Visa Application?

If you lie on your visa application, the authorities will deny your application for admissibility due to fraud and misrepresentation. When you were arrested for DUI, you were photographed and fingerprinted so it will be easy for authorities to find the record of your conviction. 

If you are an illegal immigrant or legal alien and you are arrested for DUI, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced Arizona DUI attorney as soon as possible to serve as your advocate. If you have been arrested for DUI, please contact an attorney for DUI at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your DUI case. 

Photo credit: grendelkhan from Flickr