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Green Cards and DWI’s — A Dangerous Cocktail

Ferguson Hayes Hawkins, PLLC Jan. 25, 2017

If you’re in the United States illegally, as a general rule you are immediately deportable.  That’s common knowledge.  But did you know that even if you have “lawful permanent resident” status (you have a green card), DWI offenses can make you eligible for deportation?

“Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” are offenses that are “inherently base, vile, depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.”  Matter of Olquin, 23 I&N Dec. 896 (BIA 2006).   And not surprisingly, they can get you deported.

In and of itself, a DWI is not considered a “crime involving moral turpitude” which would expose a lawful permanent resident to the risk of deportation.  However, when you add aggravating and grossly aggravating factors to the DWI conviction — such as the presence of a minor in the vehicle or driving while license revoked — you’re playing with fire.

One misdemeanor DWI, even with aggravating factors, will likely not get you deported.  But if you have been charged with an aggravated DWI before, and you’re looking at the possibility of another aggravated DWI conviction, you need a criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the interplay between criminal law and immigration law.  Plead guilty as charged, and you could find yourself starting out in district court and ending up in immigration court.