There have been reports in the media, both in the past and more recently, about faulty breathalyzers. The breathalyzers have been giving people false reads on their blood alcohol levels which has led many to get into their cars believing they are below the limit. They later find out their blood alcohol levels are over the legal limit when being stopped by police. While this is devastating for everyone involved, it is the people who hold Temporary Visas in New Zealand who will find this affects their immigration status as drink driving convictions can be damaging to their visas. It is s.157 of the Immigration Act 2009, which provides for deportation liability as a result of criminal offending, that is often used by Immigration New Zealand in relation to drink driving convictions.
There can be serious immigration consequences for someone convicted of drink driving. In addition to the conviction and penalty received from the criminal courts, someone holding a Temporary Visa may be liable for deportation. It is important that anyone facing Court proceedings in relation to a charge of drink driving receives appropriate advice. In our experience not all criminal lawyers are aware of the specific immigration consequences for their client of receiving a criminal conviction. It is relevant to note that with appropriate supporting evidence provided to a Court regarding potential immigration consequences for someone facing liability for deportation, it may be possible to persuade a Court that a discharge without conviction is appropriate. This is not the case every time and is heavily dependent on other factors too. Laurent Law can assist with providing supporting evidence in this regard if required.
The law allows Immigration New Zealand to serve visa holders with a Deportation Liability Notice if they have a drink driving conviction. From the date this notice is served you will have 14 days to give good reason why deportation should not proceed as well as 28 days in which to lodge a humanitarian appeal against liability for deportation, with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal. While not every case can be successful once it reaches this stage, Laurent Law can assist to give you the best possible chance.
Even if the deportation liability is cancelled through successful good reason or humanitarian appeals, a drink driving conviction can create problems for further Visa applications. It may result in Immigration New Zealand requiring a “character waiver” to be granted. These convictions also need to be fully and properly declared to Immigration New Zealand with any further application otherwise even further problems will arise. Laurent Law often provide submissions and manages situations for people in relation to these types of character waiver.
Due to the complicated immigration consequences that can result, it may of course be best that a drink driving conviction is avoided at all costs! If you find yourself in this sticky situation then Laurent Law can help. We have had success in the past at turning around these difficult situations and we welcome people getting in contact with us should they require assistance.