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What are the consequences of a DUI for an international student on a F-1 Visa? Is it possible/worth to fight police violence?

San Mateo, CA |

I'm a 22 year old male international student who was arrested in Redwood City, CA for a DUI(first offense). I took a breathalyser test and got over 0.8. I acted calmly and obedient with the arresting officer. She took me to jail where I spent the night. Prior to getting put in a cell I was strangled and kicked in the stomach by 3 police officers for about a minute until I bursted into tears. Next morning I was released and now have a court date. I don't have a CA license; only my foreign license which they did not take. Also, they did not take my car either. I am aware that this could have implications for my visa status, but I am more concerned with what the possible outcomes are of going to court as an international student? Is it likely I will spend jail time? How can a lawyer benefit?

Attorney Answers 3


You should definitely hire a lawyer or accept appointment of the Public Defender if you cannot afford a private lawyer. If you were right that you had a .08 reading, there is much that can be done -- even if your blood alcohol level read higher, a competent and vigorous defense lawyer can explore all the defense with you.

You should not be afraid to go to court. Your status in this country is lawful based on what you said and immigration maters are not up to the Supreior Court where you will be for the DUI. Immigration issues would be addressed by the Immigration Court and, if anything arises there, you should have the advice of an immigration lawyer. We usually consult with the immigration lawyer if our client is not actually a citizen.

In fact, your criminal defense lawyer can appear for you in court on the DUI. You do not have to go to court as long as you have hired a lawyer and confirmed with the lawyer that she or he will appear for you. If you do not have a lawyer, you must go or a warrant will issue.

Having said all that, you also should talk to a lawyer who handles civil rights and police misconduct cases. if you were assaulted in the jail, you may have a claim for damages under 42 United States Code Section 1983 and other state laws. Your civil rights lawyer can talk to you about that and about the possibility of making an internal affairs report to the Sheriff who runs the jail or to the FBI. If the civil rights lawyer believes there is a case, she or he might take it on a contingent fee. You should discuss that as well.

We cannot give legal advice in this forum and I hope this helps point you to a lawyer or lawyers who can represent you and give you advice.

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You should definitely speak with an attorney or attorneys that have experience in immigration, criminal defense and civil rights actions.

Regarding the immigration aspect, I have an attorney in San Francisco that I can put you in touch with that does amazing work.

Best wishes,

Jason Beahm
Beahm Law
San Francisco, CA 94107

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Yes you will want an attorney to assist you. You have a low BAC and if the police treated you as that way the prosecutor maybe less inclined to take the case to trial. The fact that you are not a citizen will not make any difference as far as the criminal court case is concerned. Make sure you hire an attorney to assist you as this case is defensible.
Robert Driessen

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