DUIs and illegal immigration: How the penalties for each can vary

Posted: 2:05 PM, Feb 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-10 01:44:59-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Much of the conversation surrounding the crash that killed an Indianapolis Colts player and an Uber driver last Sunday has centered on the suspect's status as an undocumented immigrant and not the fact that he was allegedly driving drunk.

The suspect, Manuel Orrego-Savala, is in the United States illegally, and was deported twice -- in 2007 and 2009 -- before the fatal crash, according to an ICE spokesperson. Orrego-Savala is a citizen of Guatemala.

Attorney Marc Lopez says first time DUI offenders, who do not cause injury or hurt anyone, could never face jail time.

"Most judges are going to put these individuals on probation," said Lopez.

But Lopez says there's more to the case of Orrego-Savala, who was previously convicted of driving under the influence in Redwood City, California in 2005.

"If he's in California and he gets a DUI and doesn't hurt anybody, he probably didn't have to do much jail time. There's also probably a federal hold and so California is lis like, oh well, he's going to get out of the state anyway so problem solved. He comes back, gets another DUI, he's deported again. It's kind of like, hey, if no one is getting hurt, these poor people aren't going to be in jail, and unfortunately you have a problem. He makes his way to Indiana and now all of a sudden, two people are dead and it's a national tragedy," said Lopez.

According to Indiana law, the penalties for being a repeat offender vary, depending on when the last offense was. 

Of course, if a person drives drunk and causes a person's death, they face a much harsher sentence. 

Orrega-Savala faces two counts of causing death when operating a motor vehicle with an ACE of .15 or more. Those two would combine for a possible prison sentence of between four and 24 years.

The penalties for being a repeat offender when it comes to immigration can be more severe. A person who re-enters the United States after having been previously deported can be imprisoned by up to 20 years in federal prison, if convicted, according to an ICE official.

An ICE detainer is currently placed on Orrego-Savala while he remains in Marion County Jail. ICE may assume custody of him for removal purposes once his proceedings have taken place in Indiana.

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