Most people understand that a criminal record can, and almost certainly will, impact potential career, housing and travel opportunities. Any time a background check is required, a person with a criminal record is likely to be moved to the bottom of the pile or worse, flat out rejected and deemed unworthy of further consideration. Until recently, Texas residents could not avoid the stigma associated with a past conviction for DWI. That all changed, however, when the Legislature amended the law in 2017 with House Bill 3016, which expands the ability of certain persons convicted of non-violent misdemeanors to petition the court to have their records sealed. This includes the ability to seal records of first time DWI convictions, so long as certain conditions are met.
Prior to HB 3016, the Texas Government Code instructed courts to seal the record of a person charged with certain non-violent misdemeanors when their case was dismissed because they successfully completed Deferred Adjudication Community Supervision. However, the law DID NOT allow records for DWI to be sealed – ever. Now, HB 3016 finally changes that rule but many people still do not realize they can seal their DWI records.
Requirements for Sealing DWI Records
Under the new law, a person convicted of a first-offense DWI with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) below 0.15 can petition the court to have the records related to that offense sealed through an Order of Non-Disclosure. In order to qualify under the new law, certain criteria must be met:
A person may have their DWI sealed only if:
- The person has never been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication probation for any other offense, not including traffic tickets. Traffic tickets will not disqualify you, if they are punishable by a fine only;
- The person successfully completed any imposed community supervision and any term of confinement as ordered by the court;
- The person paid all costs, fines and restitution as ordered by the court;
- The DWI offense did not result in a motor vehicle accident involving another person (including any passengers); and
- The person completed the relevant waiting period:
- Two years if the person completed at least six months of driving with an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle as part of the sentence; or
- Five years if the person did not have an ignition interlock required as part of the sentence.
Required Waiting Periods
The new law requires a person to wait a certain amount of time before petitioning the court to seal their DWI record.
- If a person was restricted to operation of a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device as part of their sentence, and the person complied with all conditions of the sentence for a period of not less than 6 months, then they must wait two years from the date they completed probation before they are eligible to have their record sealed.
- If a person was not required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, then they must wait five years from the date they completed probation before they are eligible to have their record sealed.
Who is NOT eligible to have a DWI record sealed?
A person is NOT eligible to have their DWI record sealed if:
- The DWI involved an accident with another person (passengers included);
- The DWI was a 2nd or 3rd offense;
- The DWI involved a finding that the BAC was 0.15 or above; or
- The DWI happened in the last two years (if ignition interlock device was ordered) or five years (if no ignition interlock was ordered).
To find out if you qualify to have your DW record sealed, contact our criminal defense attorneys today at 972-239-6200.
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