Historic Plea Achieved With Queens DA – DACA and DWI


April 19, 2018

The Law Office of Ali Najmi was able to achieve a historic and unprecedented plea in Queens County for our client, who is an immigrant participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and facing a charge of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

DACA is an administrative form of relief from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and a work permit. However, in order to be able to qualify and renew DACA, the applicant must not have a conviction of a “significant misdemeanor”.

For purposes of DACA, a significant misdemeanor includes Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) (VTL §1192(1)). The definition for “significant misdemeanor” includes driving under the influence, which includes all of New York’s alcohol related driving offenses, both “impaired” and “intoxicated” statutes.Despite being a violation and not a misdemeanor, a plea to DWAI would disqualify a DACA recipient from renewing DACA.

The Office of the Queens County District Attorney generally restricts plea offers to other alcohol related driving offenses such as the violation of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). For months prosecutors would not consider any alternative offers, and maintained only a plea to the DWAI charge. However, criminal defense attorney Ali Najmi, zealously and creatively advocated his client’s immigration consequences, and filed a Motion To Dismiss in the Interest of Justice (Clayton motion) describing the disproportionate punishment his client would face because of the dramatic collateral immigration consequences involved. Mr. Najmi’s motion also included a detailed psycho-social analysis of the client and his family with a team of forensic social workers, and a serious commitment to dealing with his client’s relationship with alcohol. The motion made its way to the highest levels of the Queens DA’s office, and in a face to face meeting with First Assistant District Attorney Jack Ryan, Mr. Najmi was able to achieve a historic plea agreement, whereby his client plead to the crime of Reckless Driving, thereby preserving his opportunity to renew DACA.

“Ali Najmi did excellent work reducing my case to a minimum, helping me avoid jail time as well as giving me the opportunity to have another chance to live a law abiding life. I had quite a heavy case and Ali succeeded in defending me.”

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