A New Jersey DWI stop, arrest or conviction for an an illegal immigrant involves special and significant concerns. The immigrant has no driver’s license or other documents to establish the privilege to drive or to be in this country, and the arrest and conviction may result in his or her deportation.
According to an article in USA Today, published at http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-07-22-criminal-immigrants_n.htm, drunk driving arrests or convictions are resulting in an increasing number of deportations. Until recently, this was not as big of an issue for New Jersey DWI arrests, as a New Jersey DWI is considered a traffic offense and not a criminal offense. New Jersey is one of only two states to categorize DWI as a traffic offense.
However, depending on how Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) views the arrest, conviction and circumstances of the New Jersey DWI arrest, even a New Jersey DWI arrest or conviction could form part or all of the reasoning for ICE to commence deportation procedures. It is therefore extremely important to hire a qualified New Jersey DWI attorney to review your case and fight the charges against you. You should also consult with immigration counsel to determine the possibility or likelihood of deportation.
If the New Jersey DWI involves an accident or particularly a fatality, the likelihood of ICE intervention increases dramatically, and is almost a certainty. If a felony level conviction results from the DWI based assault by auto, that conviction will affect immigration status if it comes to the attention of ICE.
According to the USA Today article, the U.S. deported nearly 393,000 people last year. Of those, 27,635 had been arrested for drunken driving. An additional 13,028 were deported last year after being arrested on less serious traffic law violations. Most of the immigrants deported last year had committed drug-related crimes. They totaled 45,003. Drunken driving was third in the number of offenses last year.
ICE attempts to categorize each deported immigrant in its statistics based on the worst crime in the person’s record. ICE says the statistics involve only people who have been convicted of a crime. This may be the loop hole that will not cause a New Jersey DWI conviction to result in deportation, since the record of a New Jersey DWI conviction is not reported as a crime. A New Jersey DWI conviction does not appear on an individuals criminal record as reported by the NCIC – National Crime Information Center.
In such a serious situation, it is best to challenge the evidence against you in the most appropriately aggressive way possible. Consult with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney to evaluate the specific circumstances of your case.