Question: My arrest for a DUI has gotten me very worried because I am not a United States citizen and I'm worried about the possible punishments. I am from India and I work here in Georgia, in the city of Cumming. I am a computer programmer from a well-known tech company; in fact we are publicly traded.
A Forsyth County deputy sheriff made me pull over because he said I was speeding. I did pull over and he could smell the alcohol on my breath, he said. I admitted to drinking and he made me walk a straight line and he looked at my eyes. It was degrading. I took a breath test on the road and he arrested me for a DUI and took me to the jail. At the jail I took another breath test.
I am worried that because I am not a citizen, I am only a green card holder, that my punishments will be much more extreme than if I was a citizen. I have a friend at work who is from Mexico who is also not an American citizen and just has a green card, and he thinks that because I am not a citizen that a judge can give me extra punishments under the sentence.
I need to know if a person who is not a U.S. citizen gets a DUI, will the court make them suffer more?
N.P. in Forsyth County, GA
Answer: No, just because a person is not a U.S. citizen does not mean that he or she will have harsher punishments than a citizen. Georgia law does not provide for enhanced punishments for non-U.S. citizens.
In fact, that would be unconstitutional under the laws of the state of Georgia and under the U.S. Constitution. Of course, any arrest of a non-citizen can have immigration implications separate and apart from the DUI charge, but the actual law cannot provide for “extra” or more severe punishments based simply upon citizenship status.
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