I recently moved to the US (Jan 2010) from the UK to work on an H1B visa.
Last week I was stopped whilst driving a rental car for failing to stop at a crosswalk and unfortunately arrested and charged for a DUI offence.
I don't use a car to drive to/from work and was irresponsible enough not to realise that I should have applied for a California licence since my arrival from the UK.
When I rented the vehicle for my vacation, I was under the impression that I was fit to drive using my UK licence.
I have hired a DUI defence lawyer but my question is do I also need to hire an Immigration lawyer before my court hearing?
I am extremely worried that the additional charge of 'unlicenced driver' I face is considered to be moral turpitude from an immigration perspective and I may be deported.
You have retained a lawyer who is presumably competent so you should first of all ask him. There may be elements in your case that I am unaware of that would affect an answer. In general a single DUI is not a crime of moral turpitude although a series of DUIs may give rise to an inference that you are an alcoholic which would have immigration consequences. Driving without a license is not a crime of moral turpitude either. You should consult further with your retained attorney regarding these issues. If s/he doesn't know the answer you should replace her/him.
First let me say that I agree with the previous answers by Mr. Kaman and Mr. Geller.
Given what appears to be an unfortunate lack of communication between you and the lawyer you hired, it is understandable that you are concerned about what will happen at your court hearing (presumably your arraignment, i.e., your first appearance). You should know however that substantive decisions impacting the merits of a charge or the consequences of potential convictions are rarely at issue at the first court appearance.
Daniel A. Flores
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