Meet with an attorney

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Will Happen To Me if I am Charged with a DUI and I am an Illegal/Undocumented Immigrant?

Back of Police Officer
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects Americans from random, “unreasonable searches and seizure.” However, these basic constitutional rights do not fully apply at our borders. At our border crossings, known as ports of entry”, federal agents are not required to provide a warrant or have suspicion of criminal behavior to conduct a routine search. Such searches can be classified as searching luggage or even a vehicle.

Is Cincinnati Considered a “Port of Entry?

Cincinnati is not close enough to any borders to be considered a port of entry and is outside of the 100-mile border zone. Because of that fact, United States Border Control does not have the authority to operate immigration checkpoints. Despite this fact, undocumented immigrants are constantly worried about being pulled over for any traffic violation for the risk of that stop leading to deportation. Authorities commonly ask if individuals are citizens of these United States. Always remember, you have a right not to answer any of their questions.

How Can ICE Become Involved in My DUI/OVI Charge?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE, is responsible for immigration proceedings and enforcement. There is a multitude of ways that a DUI arrest can cause ICE to become involved:

  • The law enforcement officers who arrest you may find out that you are not a citizen and contact ICE when they arrest you. ICE will typically come to the respective station in which you were booked and interview you on the spot.
  • ICE may find out on its own accord if and when your case was entered into a shared database. The agency will then ask the officers to hold you until an ICE agent is available to interview you.
  • If either of those doesn’t happen, ICE may find out after the fact through court records – up to weeks or months after your initial arrest. This could result in the immigration officer going to your place of residency and requesting to speak with you.

If ICE does come to your residence, you are not required have to let them in or answer any questions unless they have a proper warrant. In the event of this happening, you get in contact with a lawyer right away.

Could I Be Deported Because of My Ohio OVI/DUI Conviction?

In certain instances, you can get deported over a DUI. The good thing to know, though, is ICE doesn’t deport every illegal immigrant they come in contact with. In the case of them actually knowing you are not in the country legally, they may simply interview you and allow you to be on your way. ICE has limited resources, and because of this, they have been directed to focus their time and energy on high-priority cases.

After your subsequent interview or detention, the immigration officer will decide whether or not to place you into removal proceedings. Removal proceedings are the legal processes that determine an alien’s removability, or deportation, from the United States. This process can be very slow, and you will not be deported immediately, so don’t stress right away.

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.

The federal statute governing deportation, 8 U.S.C.S. § 1227, sets forth multiple categories of criminal conduct that result in deportation. Such are a commission of a crime of moral turpitude that is punishable by one year or more in jail, aggravated felony, controlled substance offenses, or domestic violence crimes.

Until 2004, there had been an ongoing debate about whether an OVI or DUI was an aggravated felony. This was especially the case where there was an injury in a motor vehicle accident.  The United States Supreme Court came to an adamant conclusion and stated that a DUI is not a crime of violence and NOT an aggravated felony; Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1 (2004).

There are some immigration courts that may consider an OVI or DUI to be a crime of moral turpitude, however.  In the event of it actually being a crime of moral turpitude, the perpetrator might not be deported if it is a misdemeanor that is punishable by less than a year in jail.  Most misdemeanor OVI offenses in Ohio are typically punishable by less than one year in jail, but some, contingent on prior convictions, are called “serious misdemeanors” and are punishable by up to one year in jail.

While a conviction for a misdemeanor OVI or DUI may not result in deportation, a crime such as an OVI can postpone and hinder a permanent resident’s potential to become an American citizen. From the eyes of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and OVI or DUI could be looked at as evidence of lacking good moral character. If you are facing a DUI/OVI charge in Ohio, the Farrish Law Firm is ready to help you, please contact us with any questions.