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Practice Note
Key Ruling by the Supreme Court: DUI Not Grounds for Deportation

On November 9, 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court made an extremely important ruling in Leocal vs. Ashcroft that affects millions of legal immigrants from the risk of being deported for a DUI (Driving Under Intoxication) accident.

With a 9-0 vote the Supreme Court ruled that a DUI is not a "crime of violence," whether an injury is caused or not.

Under the current immigration law, as amended in 1996, immigrants will be deported if they commit a serious crime, including any "crime of violence." The law defines a crime of violence as the "use of physical force against another§.  The High Court, however, ruled that a crime of violence refers to a deliberate use of force to hurt another person, not an accident that results in an injury.

The Justices pointed out that in the normal use of language, the phrase "use of force" implies an intent. "Thus, a person would 'use ... physical force against' another when pushing him; however, would not ordinarily say a person 'uses ... physical force against' another by stumbling and falling into him."


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