Can you be deported for a DWI in Texas? While there is a lot to discuss on the subject, we can tell you upfront that you CAN be deported for a DWI, whether you’re a permanent resident, a lawful resident, or are here unlawfully. 

DWI is always a serious offense that comes with some of the harshest penalties doled out in the criminal justice system, but for immigrants in the United States, DWI penalties can be even more life-altering.

If you or a loved one has been arrested under suspicion of DWI in Texas, especially if you or they are not an American citizen, you need to hire a skilled DWI lawyer in Houston before it is too late. Here’s what you need to know about getting a DWI as an immigrant in Texas.

Can you be deported for drunk driving?

Will a DWI affect my immigration status? Long story short, you can be deported for drunk driving, but the likelihood greatly depends on your residency status and your criminal history.

This is what you can anticipate based on whether you are a green card holder, a lawful resident, or an unlawful resident:

What happens if a permanent resident (green card holder) gets a DWI?

For permanent residents does DWI affect US citizenship? Green card holders are in the least danger of being deported for a DWI, but this doesn’t mean that they are completely shielded from deportation. 

There are a few reasons why green card holders would be deported for DWI, but they all boil down to whether or not aggravating factors were present. DWI felony charges and cases that involve serious property damage, serious bodily injury to another person, or caused the death of another person are more likely to trigger deportation proceedings. 

Green card holders and permanent residents also tend to have the best ability to fight deportation, based on family ties, community involvement, or time spent in the country. 

What happens if a lawful resident gets a DWI?

It is much more difficult to predict the consequences of a DWI on lawful residents because lawful residents do not all share the same immigration status. A person will face different challenges based on what type of legal residency they have (i.e. sponsored visa, conditional permanent resident, etc). 

Different types of residencies come with different conditions — some of which are less tolerant of criminal charges than others. Similar to green card holders, immigration consequences may arise, but the severity of those consequences can vary based on the person’s immigration status and the specific circumstances of their case.

Lawful residents are much less likely to be deported for misdemeanor charges than they are for felonies. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the following crimes are considered “deportable crimes”:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude
  • Aggravated felonies
  • Theft, forgery
  • Fraud or money laundering greater than $10,000
  • Violent crimes that are punishable by one year in prison or more
  • Firearm, drug, or human trafficking

In most circumstances a DWI is not a “deportable offense,” but if you have multiple convictions already, or have significant aggravating circumstances, it could be. 

What happens if an illegal immigrant gets a DWI?

Regardless of whether you were charged with a DWI in Texas first offense or a 2nd offense DWI in Texas, if you are in the US unlawfully you are in much more danger of being deported for DWI. 

For illegal immigrants the government might not even wait for a conviction, sometimes an arrest for DWI is enough. Because people residing in the US unlawfully are already here illegally, all it takes is alerting Immigration and Customs Enforcement of your existence to begin deportation procedures. 

Texas courts are tough on DWI, but some might argue that they are even tougher on immigration. In the past minor offenses have been unlikely to cause federal officials to start expensive and lengthy deportation proceedings, but over the last ten years, the US has cracked down on illegal immigration. If you or a loved one was arrested for DWI and are in the US unlawfully, you need not only a DWI lawyer to protect you but also an immigration lawyer who can help make sure your life isn’t turned on its head. 

Additionally, if you don’t have a valid Texas Driver License at the time of your arrest, your DWI becomes a “crime of moral turpitude,” which can be used as grounds for deportation and can prevent re-entry into the country.

Can I get a green card if I have a DWI?

Obtaining a green card after a DWI isn’t impossible, but the process becomes significantly more challenging. US immigration authorities closely scrutinize the criminal history of all applicants, and a DWI conviction will certainly be viewed as a negative factor in determining eligibility for permanent residency.

While a DWI does not make you ineligible for a green card, the USCIS does consider alcohol use disorders to be a physical/mental disorder and may use your DWI as evidence to attempt to prove that you have one. Because you have to go through medical evaluations during the green card application process, this means that you can be rejected from the program based on criminal or medical grounds. 

Worried that you can be deported for a DWI? Call Thiessen Law Firm today

So, can you be deported for a DWI in Texas? Yes. This is why you and your family need to hire a trusted and dedicated attorney to see you through the process. Some things that a skilled attorney can provide you during the DWI court process include:

  1. They can defend you against a DWI charge. First and foremost hiring an experienced attorney during this time can defend you against the DWI charge that is putting you in danger. Hiring a trial attorney who can help you get the best outcome possible for your case is the best thing you can do for your family, your future, and your immigration status.
  2. They can help you prepare for the consequences. Even if you don’t hire an immigration lawyer, an attorney can help you prepare for the impact that a criminal case will have on your life and your immigration status. 
  3. They can negotiate plea agreements. Sometimes negotiating a deal will be the best way to make sure that your immigration status remains unaffected. 
  4. They can protect your rights. Everyone going through a criminal trial needs someone by their side to protect their rights in the punitive criminal justice system, but for non-citizens this need is twofold. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DWI in Texas and you are worried that it may affect your immigration status, call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us onlineto begin fighting for your life. 

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Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.