According to the Public Policy Institute of California, more than ten million immigrants live in our state, and they comprise more than thirty percent of the population in Los Angeles and Orange counties. October 2014 marks one year since Governor Brown signed the bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain California drivers’ licenses. If you’re an immigrant holding a green card or a visa, or if you’re undocumented and you’re charged with DUI in California, you’re going to need legal help fast. Don’t panic, but call an experienced Orange County DUI attorney immediately. When a non-citizen is convicted of DUI in California, the results will be somewhat different from a U.S. citizen’s conviction. Here’s a brief look at three large immigration categories and how immigrants in each will be impacted by a DUI conviction:

  1. Green card holders: In most cases, a DUI conviction will not affect your status as a green card holder, but it hinges on the details of the case. The federal government could categorize you as “inadmissible” if your DUI is linked to any type of substance abuse other than alcohol. If the DUI was related to a crime of moral turpitude (such as rape, murder, arson, or drug trafficking), your conviction will probably land you in immigration court for deportation proceedings.
  1. Visa holders: If you’re convicted of a DUI while in southern California on a visa, be ready to face the California criminal justice system. You’ll be unable to leave California until your DUI case is fully resolved. A DUI may also affect your admissibility status in the future.
  1. Undocumented immigrants: While one misdemeanor DUI conviction will not automatically lead to deportation, it can still create serious immigration consequences for the undocumented. You may be categorized as inadmissible, and even if you aren’t, a DUI conviction will be an obstacle to obtaining a green card or eventually becoming a U.S. citizen.

DUI charges carry extensive and serious consequences for everyone who’s convicted. But there’s hope. Good DUI defense attorneys fight for and get justice for their clients routinely in California. If you’re charged with DUI in Orange County or anywhere in the region, discuss your case and your legal options as quickly as possible with an experienced Orange County DUI attorney, and get the legal help you really need.