Can a DUI Conviction Prevent my Citizenship?

We had come to realize that receiving a ticket for drinking and driving creates stress and inconvenience should we get convicted or receive probation before judgment for this offense. This problem is now compounded if you are not an American citizen!

While it is still possible to become a citizen with a DUI charge, you will be required to prove to ICE that you are still a person with “good moral character”. Normally, if the charge does not have intent or maliciousness as one of the elements of the charge, then the charge will not be considered a crime involving “ moral turpitude.” For citizenship purposes, ICE appears to be focused on whether you knew you violating the law when you engaged in the drinking and driving act. The Maryland drinking driving law does not contain any references to evil intent or to cause harm or injury to anyone or to engage in reckless behavior. So, it is not likely a crime of moral turpitude for citizenship purposes.

“Can I Get Citizenship with a DUI or a DWI Conviction”

In her excellent article on this topic, “Can I Get Citizenship with a DUI or a DWI Conviction”, Danielle Nelisse, Senior Immigration Attorney writes, “having a DUI does not usually prohibit USA citizenship unless there was the bodily injury to someone else.”

However, while the crime itself may not represent the bad moral character, being on probation is considered a bad moral character. The fact that a person is under the supervision of the court suggests to the ICE that his “bad” behavior requires ongoing involvement by the court. Nelisse writes that in “many states a person can ask a criminal court judge to terminate their probation early so that they are off probation by the time of their citizenship interview. The naturalization applicant should admit responsibility for the DUI conviction and be ready to explain. that he is not a habitual drunk (another ground of disqualification for citizenship) and has changed his life for the better.”

Whether you a citizen or not, obtaining a good DUI defense lawyer for your traffic charges and a good immigration lawyer if you are not a citizen if you are facing serious traffic charges always makes sense.

“Can I Get Citizenship with a DUI or a DWI conviction? Reprinted with permission from the author Danielle Nelisse, Senior Immigration Attorney. See: