Legal Question in DUI Law in New York

I was convicted of a misdemeanor (DWI) and am in the permenant residence status here in the US. I would like to apply for citizenship and would like to know if this would affect the decision in any way...

Asked on 5/18/11, 7:45 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

John Campbell Law Office Of John Campbell

The first thing you should do is read the United States Supreme Court 2004 decision Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 US 1 (2004) where the Supreme Court held that an alien's conviction of Florida driving-while-under-influence-of-alcohol offense not requiring proof of any mental state held not to be crime of violence, under 18 U.S.C.S. 16, authorizing deportation pursuant to 8 U.S.C.S. 1227(a).

A DWI/DUI conviction may have a negative impact on both a permanent resident's ability to stay in the United States as well as their citizenship application. Generally, a conviction will affect immigration status and citizenship applications if the conviction is for (1) an aggravated felony; or (2) a crime involving moral turpitude. To be considered an aggravated felony the crime must involve violence and the offender must have been sentenced to a period of incarceration of one year or more. Generally, a DUI that does not involve injury, death, property damage or other aggravating factors is not a felony. However, if the DUI involved a serious accident with injuries or death then felony charges such as vehicular assault, manslaughter, murder etc are a real possibility and those types of charges would be considered aggravated felonies if the defendant was sentenced to one year or more of incarceration. Keep in mind however, even if the DUI was not considered an aggravated felony, it could be considered a crime of moral turpitude if other factors were present. For example, it could be considered a crime of moral turpitude if the DUI was committed by one who did not possess a license or whose license was suspended.

Please note, the above is a general answer - it is not legal advice. You can certainly call me to discuss further. 914-833-9785 or visit our website at

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Answered on 5/23/11, 6:45 am


We have substantial experience handling these types of cases, however, we would need some more information before making a complete and proper determination. You are welcome to contact us for a free consultation.


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Answered on 5/23/11, 9:04 am

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