As a Miami immigration lawyer, I have had several cases wherein an immigration client gets charged with a DUI/DWI. This is not something to take lightly when you have an immigration application pending. Below are some frequently asked questions.

What are the immigration consequences of a DUI/DWI charge or conviction?

A DUI/DWI record of arrest, criminal charge, and conviction may affect the status of an immigrant in the United States. Having a criminal conviction on record can lead to a denial of reentry into the United States, or removal or deportation from the United States. The immigration consequences of the client’s plea or conviction usually depend on specific facts of the crime, the client’s prior violations (if any), and where the client is in the immigration process. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

What are the consequences of DUI/DWI convictions for individuals with a pending immigration application?

There are three main consequences of DUI/DWI convictions for aliens: deportation, denial of admissibility into the United States, and denial of citizenship.

Under the immigration law, conviction is defined very broadly. Pursuant to Section 101(a)(48) of the Immigration and Nationality Act the term conviction, with respect to an alien, means:

  1. a formal judgment of guilt entered by a court, or if adjudication of guilt has been withheld, where a judge or jury has found the alien guilty or the alien has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt, and
  2. the judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the alien’s liberty to be imposed.

Any reference to a term of imprisonment or sentence with respect to an offense is deemed to include the period of incarceration or confinement ordered by a court of law regardless of the imprisonment or execution of that imprisonment or sentence in whole or in part.

An experienced Miami immigration attorney must review carefully the particular state code and consider the criminal statute involved word for word, element for element. The Miami immigration lawyer must also work with the court system to try to arrange that the client’s DUI/DWI crime does not meet the definition of conviction under immigration law. If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

Can I be removed removed (i.e. deported) as a result of a DUI/DWI conviction?

You may be removed (deported) as a result of DUI/DWI conviction. The key phrase here is “crime of moral turpitude.” Generally, to determine whether a conviction qualifies as one involving moral turpitude, the courts look at the language of the statute, and not at the underlying facts. Although moral turpitude is typically found in crimes committed intentionally or knowingly, the courts have held that reckless conduct may be sufficient if an aggravating factor is present. If you have any questions in regard to this, you should contact a Miami immigration lawyer for a consultation.

Can I be denied citizenship as a result of a DUI/DWI conviction?

Yes, you may be denied citizenship as a result of a DUI/DWI conviction. Recent decisions of the immigration and federal courts clearly demonstrate that having a DUI/DWI conviction on your immigrant client’s record can be very damaging.  Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced Miami immigration lawyer to advise you during DUI/DWI plea negotiations.

 If you would like more information on immigration consequences of a DUI/DWI conviction, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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