A drunk driving charge can happen to anyone. Someone who is out having a good time with friends or family may just not realize, until it is too late, that he or she had too much to drink to legally drive. In other cases, good people just make a bad decision and wind up facing a DUI charge in a Pennsylvania court.

An American citizen who lives in Pennsylvania may decide just to plead guilty to the charge and accept the penalties. However, a Lancaster resident who is a permanent resident or is staying in the United States on a visa or through some other permission may worry whether a DUI charge will lead to deportation.

Many common crimes can lead to deportation

Federal law lists a number of crimes, both felonies and misdemeanors, which can make a permanent resident or other legal immigrant deportable. For example, many crimes related to the simple possession of drugs are deportable even for a first-time offense. Offenses related to domestic violence are also deportable.

Certain DUIs can lead to deportation

While DUI’s are not specifically mentioned on this list, they can be used as evidence that an immigrant is a drug abuser or addict, and drug abuse or addiction is grounds for deportation.

Also, while simple DUIs are not so-called crimes of moral turpitude, if there are aggravating circumstances, like if a person commits a DUI while driving on a suspended license, a DUI may be a crime of moral turpitude.

An immigrant is deportable if he or she commits 2 or more crimes of moral turpitude in two different incidents or commits only one such crime within a few years after entering the United States.

Finally, some DUIs under Pennsylvania law include possible jail sentences of at least one year, which can also make an immigrant deportable.

While this is an overview, the laws about which crimes are deportable can be complicated. It is really best for anyone in the Lancaster area who is a non-citizen to speak with an experienced immigration attorney about a pending DUI charge before deciding how to go forward.