Can I naturalize with DUI conviction?

A lot of permanent residents have been arrested and/or convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol even if no accidents happened or it was a one-car accidents.  By the way, my general advice to everyone is not to drink and drive (though, to anyone who is not a citizen, my extreme advice is not to drink till they become citizens because as a non-citizen, you have fewer rights and the ultimate punishment is being thrown out of the United States).  You are not only posing a huge risk to yourself, your own family and others in your car, as well as to other innocent people.  If you are legally able to drink, do so in your own home (hey, it is okay to get wasted once in a while, though, excessive alcohol consumption is bad for health).  If you choose to do so at other people's homes (yes, there are a lot of idiots who let people get drunk in their homes and then let them drive -- I limit alcohol at my party and if someone is too drunk, I offer to let them sleep in my house, and if they insist on going home, I pay for a taxi, and in the worst case scenario of someone getting drunk and then insisting on driving, I simply call the cops on them even if they are my family).  Assuming you want to drink outside your own home, if you are willing to spend money on alcohol, you should spend a bit on getting a taxi as well.  There is also the concept of 'designated drivers' for people who are misers or poor.  The idea is that one individual who knows how to drive and has a valid driver's license agrees not to drink at all or has only one drink so that others can enjoy.  The favor can be returned in kind or even in cash or gift (like paying for this person's dinner).



Immigration status at time of DUI is important:  Now, let us assume that you are stupid and care neither for your life nor for that of others, and you were busted for drunk driving.  Several scenarios are possible when you get stopped for DUI and they all have enormous consequences.  So if you are a non-citizen, the first thing you have to do is to call your immigration attorney in addition to a DUI attorney.  Prior to talking to your attorney, do not say anything because you do have a right to remain silent.  When speaking to the DUI lawyer, disclose your immigration status (pleading guilty in return for a lower sentence can have serious consequences).  Obviously, if there was evidence of alcohol consumption, you will be convicted and penalized in all sorts of ways including jail time, fines, points on license, higher auto insurance rates, and even deportation.  However, if you managed to evade deportation and are otherwise eligible for naturalization, what should you do?



Green card holders with DUI should never apply for citizenship without attorney help:  I repeat, if you have a DWI conviction, do not try DIY naturalization.  Get a good attorney to assist you.  The first thing that makes the case complicated is that DUI laws vary by states.  In addition, the circumstances of your cases will not only influence how you are punished but also what it means at the time of your N-400 decision.  For example, if you have children in your car even if no one was harmed will not please a judge or a USCIS agent.  Needless to add that if you hurt someone or caused an accident or obstructed traffic, no one will treat you kindly.  Such details will be available in police report and court papers, which either you will provide or the USCIS will access on its own.  Another key consideration is if you have other crimes in your history.  Since not every DUI conviction leads to prison time or severe punishment -- many drivers are merely given probation and if they behave the probationary period can be ended earlier -- it does not mean that your naturalization will be denied or your green card revoked and you being deported (by the way, a DUI conviction or even refusal to take a breath test when stopped by police means that even if you manage to get a US passport, you will not be able to travel to Canada and several other countries, even if you have no intention to drive there).  A lot depends on the individual circumstances and how the USCIS views those.  The best way, therefore, is to consult a lawyer even before considering citizenship.