You’re not a native U.S. citizen. As such, you constantly worry that any little mistake may be grounds for deportation. You don’t want to lose what you have here. You have a good job, you live in a safe community and you’ve brought your family over. It’s worth a lot to you to protect that.

Then, as you drive home from dinner one night, you get pulled over. It was just a family dinner, but you did have a few glasses of wine. The officer arrests you on DUI charges.

Suddenly, that concern floods through you. They think you broke the law. These are serious allegations. Are they going to deport you and be done with it? Have you lost everything that you worked so hard for because you had that one extra glass of wine when you should have just had a glass of water?

Was it a felony?

It’s understandable that you’re nervous and worried. Anyone would be. But one of the biggest questions to ask is simply what your record looks like and if it’s a felony charge or not.

After all, courts typically do not deport people after their first DUI charge. They look for more serious offenses and felonies. A DUI is usually just a misdemeanor. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously, but you probably will not have to worry about deportation.

If it was a felony, though, that’s another story. Aggravating factors can turn it into one. The example above likely is not a felony, but a DUI can become one if:

  • You have a history of repeated DUI convictions in a relatively short time period.
  • You caused an accident in which someone suffered a serious injury or passed away.
  • You endangered children by letting them ride with you.
  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was extremely far over the 0.08% legal limit.
  • You had convictions, especially felony convictions, that meant your license was revoked or suspended.

What the court is looking for is something that makes this a more serious charge. If you barely broke the legal limit for a first offense while out to dinner, felony charges are incredibly unlikely. If you ran a red light and hit a pedestrian, things get very serious, very fast. It all depends on the exact circumstances of your arrest.

What now?

When facing criminal charges or worrying about deportation, the biggest thing is to make sure you know what legal options you have. You do have rights, and there are steps you can take to protect all that you have worked for in the United States.