What Are the Immigration Consequences of an OVI Conviction?

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

Until 2004, there had been an ongoing debate about whether OVI or DUI was an aggravated felony, particularly where there was an injury accident.  Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court resolved this question and definitively stated that DUI is not an aggravated felony for purposes of the immigration laws because it is not a crime of violence.  Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1 (2004).

Some immigration courts may consider OVI or DUI to be a crime of moral turpitude.  However, even if it is a crime of moral turpitude, it may not be deportable if it is a misdemeanor punishable by less than one year in jail.  Most misdemeanor OVI offenses in Ohio are punishable by less than one year in jail, but some, depending on the number of prior convictions, are called serious misdemeanors and are punishable by one year in jail.

While a conviction for a misdemeanor DUI/OVI may not, by itself, result in deportation of an otherwise legal alien, such an OVI conviction can postpone a permanent resident’s application or ability to become a U.S. citizen.  A DUI or OVI conviction could be viewed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service as evidence of a lack of good moral character.

If you or a family member has been arrested for OVI in Columbus and are concerned about the possible criminal and immigration consequences, contact a Knowledgeable OVI Lawyer at (614) 454-5010.

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