How Will a DWI Charge Affect My Immigration Status in New Jersey?

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Whether you are in the United States as a permanent resident or as a visa holder, the consequences of a DWI charge can be more severe for you. Apart from the possibility of hefty fines, jail term, and revocation of your driving license – your immigration status can also be affected.

“Crimmigration” is a complex area of the law, and only a skilled and experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer can hack it. The trick is to find weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence and having the DWI charges dismissed. If not, they can rest your wildest fears by having deportation removed during your plea negotiations.

Can Authorities Deport me for DWI If I Have a Green Card?

A green card cannot make you immune to deportation from the United States. If you are convicted for DWI, the immigration court’s judge can examine your situation and decide whether your crime warrants deportation.

DWI crimes take many forms, but the type that can make you deportable include: 

  • If it relates to controlled substances
  • If you are convicted of two other crimes that involve moral turpitude
  • If a crime of violence is involved
  • If within the first five years of admission into the U.S., you committed a crime of moral turpitude with a jail term of 365 days or more
  • Aggravated felony; a misdemeanor in New Jersey can be an aggravated felony according to the immigration standards

What Happens If I’m Charged for DWI Before Travelling Out of the U.S.?

The worst escape for an immigrant with a New Jersey DWI violation charge is to leave the country, especially if the offense(s) you have committed before leaving meets the requirements to render you inadmissible. Inadmissibility means that you will be barred from applying for a U.S. green card or visa. 

The Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) governs the laws for inadmissibility in the United States. If you have a DWI charge, the following grounds can potentially deny you entry into the country:

  • Committing a crime involving a controlled substance
  • Personally admitting to a crime of controlled substance violation before conviction
  • Alcohol or drug addiction
  • A conviction for committing two or more crimes with a sentence of not less than five years
  • A conviction for one or more intentional crimes of moral turpitude

You will probably not meet the above description if you have had a single DWI conviction with no aggravating factors like bodily injuries to others, reckless driving, and involvement in an accident.

Can a DWI Charge Affect My Ability to Receive U.S. Citizenship?

Any green card holder’s dream is to achieve the status of a naturalized U.S citizen – where you won’t have to worry about being deportable or inadmissible. One of the application requirements is proof that you have been of good moral character for the last five years. A DWI conviction can make it difficult – but not impossible – for you to become a citizen. 

A New Jersey immigration DWI attorney can help you use your community achievements to show the immigration authorities that you are qualified. For instance, being a model family member or employee and volunteering work is quite something. Alternatively, you could wait to submit the application five years after the DWI conviction.

How Can I Save Myself from Deportation for DWI?

The best way to avoid the dire immigration consequences is to fight the DWI charges. Here is how an immigration DWI attorney in New Jersey can defend you and ensure that you don’t get convicted:

Misinterpreted Signs of Intoxication

Producing evidence indicating that the defendant is managing a medical condition that may have appeared as a sign of intoxication.

Inaccurate Testing

If your DWI defense attorney can successfully dispute the most substantial evidence – chemical testing – then the prosecution has no option but to drop the charges. The results from the chemical test on your breath, urine, or blood can sometimes be unreliable; if it is proven, it can be excluded from the case.

Challenging the Reason for the Stop

Evidence gathered can be inadmissible in court if the process involved is questionable. And if the officer had no reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place, the DWI case cannot proceed.

How is Deportation for DWI Arrived At?

Law enforcement officers can either stop you at a DWI checkpoint or anywhere else on the road based on reasonable suspicion.

If you are arrested, here is how you may end up being deported for DWI:

Issuance of Ticket(s)

Depending on the circumstance and observation, the police can give you one or more tickets.

Court Date Set

At the bottom of your DWI ticket will be the date of your arraignment. Speaking to an experienced DWI lawyer near you is essential in taking the right plea on the arraignment date.


The judge reads out your charges and explains your rights before asking you to take a plea. If you plead guilty, you can be sentenced immediately. But if you take a “not guilty” plea, another date will be set or trial.

The verdict

The nature of your conviction will determine whether the immigration authorities will get involved or not. You may not be eligible for deportation if your DWI is simple, without aggravation or acts of moral turpitude. If the immigration judge rules that you be deported to your country of origin, it is not final because you can appeal and get a more favorable ruling.

Safeguard Your Immigration Status With the Right DWI Defense Lawyer

If you are facing charges that can result in immigration issues, time is of the essence. Speaking to a New Jersey criminal defense attorney early enough ensures that your rights are protected, and the negative fallout of a criminal or serious traffic conviction is avoided.

However, if you are already convicted of DWI, a skilled immigration DWI lawyer in New Jersey can help you appeal. The good thing is, you will remain in the country as you wait for the appeal case. The earlier you understand your options, the more empowered you’ll feel. Book a free case evaluation today!

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