Colorado DUIs and Immigration Inadmissibility

The current political climate has drawn a great deal of attention to immigration across the United States, and Colorado is no exception. As has been covered extensively by the news, criminal offenses can impact your immigration status. While immigration is a complex area of law, a DUI or related offense can have a serious impact on your immigration status. Being charged with a DUI can be overwhelming for anyone, regardless of whether it is an alcohol or drug-related offense. However, being charged with these crimes is of special concern to immigrants in Colorado because a conviction could result in an immigrant being deemed inadmissible or even deportable. This post focuses on inadmissibility, which could apply to an immigrant already present in the United States or one attempting to enter from abroad.

Understanding Inadmissibility

Inadmissibility refers to a set of federal laws that make a person ineligible to enter or remain in the United States. A variety of circumstances can make a person inadmissible, ranging from severe health conditions to misrepresentation of facts on immigration documents. Criminal conduct is one potential reason for someone being labeled as inadmissible. Criminal activity resulting in potential inadmissibility includes:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude (this is a broad category requiring legal assistance to understand all potential aspects);
  • Violation of any controlled substance law;
  • Multiple criminal convictions;
  • Drug trafficking;
  • Prostitution;
  • Commercialized vice;
  • Commission of a serious crime in the United States;
  • Engaging in the violation of religious freedom abroad;
  • Human trafficking; and/or
  • Money laundering.

Many of these categories are purposefully vague. This allows law enforcement officials to piece together various laws that may come into play when an immigrant is facing criminal charges that could lead to inadmissibility.

Of particular concern with drug-related DUIs is violation of a controlled substance law as marijuana-related offenses could qualify as a reason for an immigrant to be deemed inadmissible. While recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and several other states, if it is used in compliance with state law, it is still possible to run afoul of such laws. Doing so, especially when driving is involved, can cause serious problems for immigrants seeking to enter or remain in the United States. It is important to also understand state-imposed limits on marijuana possession so as not to cross the line into territory where a marijuana-related offense could qualify as drug trafficking. Additionally, traffic accidents resulting in serious injury or death where alcohol or drugs have played a role can also result in immigrants being deemed inadmissible.

Legal Assistance with DUIs

No matter the type of DUI you have received, facing the charge can be intimidating. This is especially true for immigrants that may actually lose or be denied legal status depending on the circumstances of a conviction. If you are facing DUI charges related to either drugs or alcohol, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to make sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. There are many intricate aspects involved in DUI defense, and Jay Tiftickjian understands the importance of making sure your defense utilizes all available options. If you are facing DUI charges, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more about the charges you are facing as well as the potential consequences of conviction. For immigrants, those may include inadmissibility and/or deportation, which may require additional legal assistance from an experienced immigration attorney.

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(image courtesy of Nitish Meena)