A driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense is serious. But is it serious enough to get you deported? The answer depends on different factors. The questions below provide some guidance.
Was it a felony?
In most cases, a first DWI offense is not a felony. It will come with fines and potential jail time, but generally does not lead to deportation. However, a felony DWI could lead to deportation. This would happen if there is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle at the time or an accident that injured or resulted in the death of another person.
If it was a felony, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may consider it a crime of moral turpitude. Each state can use a different definition of a crime involving moral turpitude, but it almost always includes those that injure another person. As a result, if the DWI lead to an accident that resulted in the injury or death of another person, the government may attempt to move forward with deportation.
It is important to note that although a misdemeanor may not automatically lead to deportation hearings, it will still likely have a negative impact on immigration status.
Was there more than one DWI in a short period of time?
The USCIS will argue that a person with more than one DWI within a set time period lacks good moral character (GMC). The person will then need to provide “substantial relevant and credible contrary evidence” to show that they do have GMC and should not be deported. Although rehabilitation efforts are helpful, they will not be enough on their own to show that the person has GMC.
What should I do if I get a DWI?
Immigrants who get a DWI are wise to take the matter seriously. You do not have to go through the process on your own. Legal counsel can fight for your interests and discuss all of your options, better ensuring a positive outcome.