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Steps for Green Card Holders Involved in A Car Accident

Tadeo & Silva Law can explain the steps for Green Card holders involved in a car accident. Book an appointment with us today for more information.

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: November 30, 2023.

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What To Do After a Car Accident as a Permanent Resident

As a green card holder, you have the right to live and work in the United States permanently, subject to certain conditions. You must maintain your primary residence in the U.S., renew your green card every ten years, and, most importantly, be a law-abiding resident. Being involved in certain criminal offenses can lead to immigration penalties.

So, if you have been involved in a car accident involving a criminal offense like a DUI or reckless driving, what do you do? What risk does it pose to your immigration status, and how can you avoid losing your permanent residence?

The effect of criminal charges on your immigration status depends on the exact criminal activity you have been involved in. It is advisable to contact an immigration lawyer as soon as you are involved in a car accident with the risk of facing criminal charges.

If the Accident Did Not Involve Any Crime

If the accident was not influenced by any criminal activity on your part, your immigration status is not at risk, even if the authorities are involved. Georgia is an “at-fault” state, meaning that the offending driver’s insurance company is responsible for covering the cost of damages in an accident. This includes damage to the properties and personal injuries.

Ideally, you’d want to call emergency services if there are any casualties. You also want to alert the local authorities to come to the scene and draw up an official police report of the incident. They will collect the relevant information of the parties involved and assess the extent of damage that occurred.

Visiting the hospital for a check-up is a good idea to assess physical injury to you or other passengers in your car. You must do this even without any apparent wounds, as you may have internal injuries or delayed symptoms. Then, you can contact a personal injury attorney if you decide to pursue a claim against the at-fault party.

If the Accident Involved a Crime

Your immigration status is most at risk if the car accident was influenced by a criminal act that you committed. Under U.S. immigration law, your lawful permanent resident status is likely to be affected if you are involved in the following crimes:

  • Aggravated felonies

  • Crimes of moral turpitude

  • Drug-related crimes

An aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) does not necessarily mean that the crime must be a felony or classified as “aggravated” in whichever state it is committed. The INA has a long list of offenses considered aggravated felonies by the U.S. Congress for immigration purposes. It includes crimes like murder, rape, trafficking of arms, forgery, and even failure to appear in court after receiving a court order.

Crimes involving moral turpitude include offenses like aggravated battery, robbery, theft, fraud, etc. If you get into an accident while joyriding in another person’s car, you may be guilty of a crime involving moral turpitude since you can be charged with theft.

Drug-related crimes violate federal or state laws on the use, sale, distribution, and possession of controlled substances. It could be anything from drug trafficking to illegal sales or distribution of prohibited drugs. If you are involved in an accident while actively involved in such a crime, e.g., while illegally transporting controlled substances, your immigration status will likely be affected.

Consider contacting an immigration lawyer in Atlanta if you are involved in a car accident in Georgia. They can provide tailored advice and information on the effect of your accident on your immigration status.

If your car accident involves any of the above crimes, consider taking the following steps:

  • Do not run away or attempt to run away from the crime scene. This can cause more problems for you. Instead, try to park off the road if you can or put on your hazard lights to warn oncoming vehicles of the accident.

  • Contact the necessary emergency services.

  • Co-operate with the police officers at the accident scene by providing your basic personal information, driver’s license, or other ID document.

  • If you are involved in a DUI, you can politely refuse a field sobriety test.

  • If you are arrested, ask to speak with your lawyer before answering any potentially incriminating questions.

  • Do not try to bribe the police officer to let you go at any point, as that typically counts as a crime involving moral turpitude and could have immigration consequences.

  • Contact an immigration lawyer and a criminal lawyer for legal representation and advice.

What Are the Immigration Consequences of a Car Accident for Green Card Holders?

Lawful permanent residents can face two significant immigration consequences from being criminally involved in a car accident. First, your green card could be revoked, and you could be deported to your home country. Secondly, your application could be denied if you are otherwise qualified to naturalize as a citizen.

Do You Have to Involve the Authorities in a Car Accident?

If you are involved in a minor car accident, regardless of fault, you may decide not to involve the authorities. In Georgia, you are required to involve the authorities in a car accident that results in injury, death, or property damage above $500. So, if none of these are applicable, you can simply exchange the necessary contact information with the owner of the other property or vehicle involved and go your separate ways. Your immigration status would not be affected in such a scenario.

Green Card Holder DUI

A DUI may not necessarily impact your immigration status if it is a first offense. However, being a repeat offender is likely to negatively affect your status. You might also have an immigration problem if the DUI leads to a more severe crime like vehicular manslaughter. Consult our immigration lawyers for more information on your DUI immigration status.

Tadeo & Silva Law: Your Atlanta Immigration Attorneys

If you are a lawful permanent resident who has been involved in a car accident, contact us for more information on how it can affect your status. We can provide the guidance you need to protect yourself and avoid adverse immigration consequences. We also provide other immigration services like deportation defense. So, if you have been detained and are facing deportation, it is not too late to contact us.

Our experienced and highly skilled immigration lawyers are here to help you. Contact us now to schedule a consultation.

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