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DUI/DWI Drinking and Driving. Serious impacts to H1B/F1/L1/GC Immigration Status

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We all know that drinking and driving is not only dangerous, it’s a crime in the United States. One may get arrested while driving intoxicated with Alcohol or Drugs. 

In this Article, I would like to discuss about the consequences of Arrests and DUI/DWI charges to your H1B, F1, L1 or Green Card Immigration status. 

“Please note that this article is also informational to every person in the United States who is a non-citizen.” 

What is DUI/DWI? 

DUI stands for Driving under Influence and DWI stands for Driving while Intoxicated with Alcohol, Drugs, etc. Driving while Intoxicated is a crime in the United States and may result in criminal charges, suspension of driver license and may result in a jail term in some states if you are involved in an accident and/or are a repeated offender. 

You had few or lot of drinks, what happens when you are pulled over by a cop? 

You may get pulled over for any reason like: Running a red light, Headlights off/not functioning, your vehicle is swaying, speeding, driving too slow in a speed zone, etc. Once you are pulled over, if the cop suspects that you are intoxicated; cop may ask you to step out of the Vehicle “NEVER ARGUE WITH A COP” Please follow police instructions. The cop may ask you to walk in a straight line to assess your ability to walk and soberness. If you are not sober and the cop estimates that you had more drinks than legally permitted, he/she may perform a breath test on the spot or arrest you and bring you to police station based on the State Laws. 

What is the normal procedure police follow when a non-immigrant / non-citizen is arrested? 


You should be aware that when a non-immigrant/non-citizen is arrested, you will only be released after the police complete the following process: 

  • Perform a breath test to analyze the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content), which may be before or after arrest. Please do not decline a breath test, as you may get into more trouble. 
  • Take your finger prints and photograph you to create an arrest record to charge you with DUI/DWI 
  • Contact USCIS to ensure you are maintaining valid status, USCIS may have to visit the Police Station to give clearance to the police for a release. If arrested during weekends, it is possible that USCIS field officers may not be available, you may be released only on the following work day. 
  • In some states or cases, you may require a bail or may be directly presented to Court while a Judge will sentence you for a suspension of license. 

Please note that first time offence may NOT lead to a jail term, but that judge may order the suspension of your Driver License for 3 Months to 1 year depending on BAC. If your BAC is very high, you will be required to install an “Interlock Device” for several months and up to one year. This device is very embarrassing as you have to blow into the device every time you start your vehicle and continue to blow in specified intervals while driving your car. If you are carpooling or drive with co-workers, you may feel guilty and embarrassed. 

Interlock device is installed on a motor vehicle's dashboard. Before the vehicle's motor can be started, the driver first must blow into the device; if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the device prevents the engine from being started. An ignition interlock interrupts the signal from the ignition to the starter until a valid breath sample is provided that meets minimal alcohol guidelines in that state. At that point, the vehicle can be started as normal. At random times after the engine has been started, the Device will require another breath sample. The purpose of this is to prevent someone other than the driver from providing a breath sample. If the breath sample isn't provided, or the sample exceeds the ignition interlock's preset blood alcohol level, the device will log the event, warn the driver, and then start up an alarm (e.g., lights flashing, horn honking) until the ignition is turned off, or a clean breath sample has been provided. 

Consequences / Impacts to your Wallet, Career, H1B/Green Card! 

If you are arrested and convicted of a DUI/DWI charge while on H1B, you may get into serious trouble with your career as well as present and future immigration status, as the Arrest and conviction record will permanently reside on your records in the United States. 

Wallet will be washed out!

  • Hiring an Attorney to represent your case may cost you up to $5,000.00
  • The court may require you to pay a huge fine of up to $2,000.00 based on the sentence by the judge
  • The State DMV may require you to pay penalty/surcharge to State for up to 3 years exceeding $3,000.00
  • There will be an abnormal increase in Car insurance premiums, up to 3-4 times and some car insurance companies, do not like to insure drivers with DUI/DWI charges
  • If you and your spouse are covered under car insurance, you will be treated like family and the insurance company will increase for both. Your spouse may not buy insurance on his/her own.
  • Utilizing Cab service and other transportation costs during license suspension
  • Loss of job or work hours as the Judge may sentence you to attend counselling sessions and classes along with Community Service

Impacts on your Career 

If you apply for a Full-time/Contractual job, which requires a criminal background check, you may not be hired as your background check results show your DUI/DWI Arrest and charges. Most Employers, especially Government Agencies may not like to hire candidates with DUI/Criminal records. Only in some states, there are no arrest records for DUI/DWI Arrests and may still have charges. 

Consequences to H1B/Green Card 

The dangers and consequences of drunken driving are obviously serious, but the consequences of drunken driving convictions for non-citizens of the United States can be grave. Please note that drunken driving convictions may lead to inadmissibility or to deportation of the noncitizen from the United States, denial of adjustment during the green card process, or a finding of bad moral character at a naturalization interview. 

  • If you apply for an H1B visa stamping, US consulate may refuse a Visa based on your DUI records 
  • If you apply for a Green Card, USCIS may require you to attend an Interview or deny your Green Card based on your DUI/DWI arrest/Conviction and deport you from the United States 
  • If you already have a Green card, you may have trouble in becoming a US Citizen during Naturalization process 
  • If you go out to drink or to a party, and if you drank more than one drink, please let a sober friend drive you back or ride a Taxi. I sincerely suggest everyone out there not to take any risk, you may even end up in an accident, kill someone and/or get killed. 

Have you or someone you know got into trouble with DUI/DWI Conviction? 

What is your opinion about Drinking and Driving? 

Please post in comments to help/save others!


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