Pensacola Defense Lawyers

Can a Florida DUI Lead to Deportation?

Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2020 at 1:03 pm    

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is the one crime that is commonly committed by non-criminals. Meaning, people who don’t have a previous criminal history or who don’t typically engage in criminal behavior. As such, we often see normal people get arrested for DUI, including mothers and fathers, teachers, doctors, retail associates, salespeople, and other average folks. We also see Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) arrested for DUI.

For the purposes of this article, we discuss what happens when a permanent resident is convicted of DUI in Florida, and whether a DUI conviction can lead to removal proceedings, which used to be called “deportation.”

Criminal Convictions & Removal Proceedings

When immigrants come to the United States to live for an extended period of time or to eventually become U.S. citizens, they are expected to be responsible members of our communities. When a Green Card holder violates U.S. state or federal laws, it can jeopardize their lawful permanent resident status. Since most Green Card holders are well-aware of this fact, it’s natural for them to wonder if a DUI will lead to deportation.

Does a DUI conviction automatically lead to removal proceedings? No, not necessarily but it depends on the facts of the case. Generally, a first-time DUI offense under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes will not trigger removal proceedings. However, that is not guaranteed. It can happen.

Under the following circumstances, a Florida DUI can be viewed negatively by an immigration judge and initiate removal proceedings:

  • It was a felony DUI offense;
  • It was a drug-related DUI, for example, the Green Card holder was driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamines, or another controlled substance;
  • The Green Cardholder was previously convicted for a drug-related offense;
  • The Green Cardholder has previous DUI convictions on their record; OR
  • The Green Cardholder has a criminal history and this DUI is the final straw.

To learn more about deportable offenses under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), click here.

As a general rule, if the Green Card holder has no criminal history, it was a first DUI offense (not drug-related), and there were no aggravated circumstances (no children in the vehicle and no one was hurt), the DUI should not trigger removal proceedings.

On the other hand, if the Green Card holder is charged with felony DUI, or if it’s a drug-related DUI, or if the defendant has a criminal history, the DUI could lead to deportation. It’s fact-specific and handled on a case-by-case basis.

We hope this article cleared up any questions that you have. If you’re looking for DUI defense representation, don’t hesitate to contact the Morris Firm for a free case evaluation by calling (850) 427-6514.