If you emigrated from another country of origin to the United States, you may have done so with an employment-based visa. You might also have arrived in Pennsylvania because you were getting married or going to attend one of the state’s prestigious universities. Perhaps you came here seeking asylum. In any event, if the police arrest you for DUI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will know about it.
You may have a lot at stake if you face drunk driving charges in the United States, including your freedom, as well as your ability to remain in this country. Facing DUI charges doesn’t necessarily mean you will be at risk for removal. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t, either. It depends on several factors.
A DUI conviction might be a misdemeanor or felony
If you’re convicted of drunk driving in Pennsylvania, the court may file charges as a misdemeanor crime or a felony. Upon a first offense, under a misdemeanor category, if your visa is current and all documentation in order, you may be able to avoid removal, although ICE will receive notice of your conviction.
Upon conviction of a more serious crime, and especially if you have an expired visa or you do not have proper documentation, it can affect your legal status. It may also impede your ability to re-enter the United States at a later time.
What escalates a DUI charge to a felony?
If you were involved in a motor vehicle collision prior to a DUI arrest, charges may elevate to a felony crime if another person suffered injury or there was a fatality. This applies to passengers in your own vehicle, as well as anyone in another car, as well. A felony conviction can affect your immigration status.
Do not hesitate to seek support if police arrest you for DUI
Pennsylvania law treats most DUIs as misdemeanors, provided there was not a collision resulting in injury or fatality. It’s understandable that you would be worried about your legal status as a foreign national if the state files DUI charges against you. There are legal resources available that can help you address both issues, meaning a DUI and any complications that arise concerning your immigration status, as well.
DUI charges can have a negative effect on other aspects of your life, including your personal relationships and your career, especially if you work in a field that requires a professional certification or license. It is best to seek guidance and support before appearing in court for criminal proceedings.