Undocumented immigrants can face deportation if they arrested for DUI, and a DUI conviction may make this more likely.
Many undocumented immigrants fear being pulled over for any traffic violation, because of the risk that it will lead to deportation. This fear is well founded. In California, if you are arrested for DUI and you are an illegal immigrant, you could face immigration proceedings and even be deported. This can happen whether you are convicted or not.
The agency responsible for immigration enforcement is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There are several ways that a DUI arrest can end up involving ICE:
- The police who arrest you may find out that you are not a legal immigrant and call ICE when they book you. ICE may typically come to the station and interview you immediately.
- ICE may find out on its own, when your case is entered into a shared database. They will then ask the police to hold you until an ICE officer can come interview you.
- ICE may find out after the fact, from court records—sometimes weeks or months after your
arrest. They may come to your house and ask to speak to you.
Remember, if ICE comes to your house, you do not have to let them in or answer any questions unless they have a warrant. You should call a lawyer immediately.
Will I get deported over my DUI?
In some cases, yes. But ICE doesn’t deport every illegal immigrant they catch. Even if they know you are not in the country legally, they may simply interview you and let you go. This is because ICE has limited resources, and they have been instructed to focus on high-priority cases.
After your interview or detention the ICE officer will make a determination as to whether to put you into removal proceedings. Removal proceedings are the legal process that can lead to deportation. Even if you are placed in the removal process you may or may not end up being deported. This process is slow—you will not be deported immediately.
Bear in mind that ICE is more likely to deport an immigrant who has a criminal record. You should fight your DUI charge. If you can win your DUI case, you may stand a better chance in removal proceedings. Speak to a DUI lawyer immediately.
What if I already have a DUI on my record?
If you are an undocumented immigrant and you already have a DUI on your record, you should consider getting it expunged. When a DUI is expunged it shows that you have served your sentence and taken steps to move on as a law abiding resident. An expunged DUI may not be held against you in immigration proceedings.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.