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Deportation by Driving

Because Virginia’s DMV recently stopped issuing licenses to undocumented aliens there is an ever increasing population of illegal immigrants who don’t have a driver’s licenses.

Many of these immigrants got their license before the DMV changed its policies or got their license before they overstayed their visa. However, the numbers of unlicensed immigrant drivers in Virginia is growing as those immigrant’s previously valid licenses expire and as new immigrants continue to move into the Virgina.

Because the vast majority of immigrants need to drive to work, the number of unlicensed immigrant drivers appears to be on the rise. Some immigrants have attempted to circumvent this law by getting a Maryland driver’s license (because Maryland has less strict documentation requirements). However, out-of-state license are not valid in Virginia if you have resided in Virginia for more than 60 days and getting a Maryland license while being a Virginia resident also violates Maryland law.

Driving without a license in Virginia is a criminal offense under Va. Code 46.2-300. Driving without a valid license is a class 2 misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail and a max fine of $1000. A second or subsequent offense is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines. A person convicted of this crime may also be banned from getting a license for up to 90 days.

This criminal offense has particular relevance to aliens who are deport-able because going to jail is the most common way that aliens are deported. In most jails, local loaw enforcement officers working under the guise of the Department of Homeland Security Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (DHS-ICE). The ICE officers screen each inmate looking for deport-able aliens. If an undocumented alien is discovered in jail then an ICE detainer is placed on them.

An ICE detainer is a request from ICE to the sheriffs department, requesting them to hold the inmate until ICE come to pick them up to take them into federal custody. A single day in jail can be enough to trigger an ICE detainer and deportation.

Because of the number of illegal immigrants driving without a license, driving without a valid license is one of the most common crimes for illegal immigrants and thus one of the more common ways for an immigrant to be deported.

While attitudes regarding illegal immigrants and deportation policies rang across the board. It is clear that driving without a valid license in Virginia is an extreme risk for most undocumented aliens.




About Luke Nichols

Luke Nichols practices almost exclusively traffic law in Northern Virginia. His primary practice areas include reckless driving, speeding, DUI/DWI, refusal, hit-and-run, driving on a suspended license, and driving on a revoked license. Mr. Nichols has represented hundreds of Virginia drivers. You can also connect with Luke on Google+
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