Texas Legislature Finally Allows Sealing of Records for First-Time DWI Convictions

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.

There is no legal relationship created or implied by the posting of a blog or exchange of a message in response thereto on this website. All blogs and related statements are not to be construed as legal advice but as general guidance. In all cases, an attorney should be retained to review the full circumstances and deliver advice consistent with the information disclosed to the attorney.

New Texas Law Allows for Beneficiary Designation on Your Vehicle

Here at Prevost, Shaff, Mason & Carns, P.L.L.C., one of our most important duties is to stay current on the latest legislative developments and share those updates with our clients, friends and families.

With that in mind, we wanted to share that the Texas Legislature has recently added new provisions to the Texas Estates Code and Transportation Code allowing for the designation of a beneficiary on your vehicle to take title upon your passing without the need for probate or otherwise.

We know organizing an estate after a family member’s passing can be difficult and designating a beneficiary of your vehicle is another great way to help simplify estate matters and make sure your wishes are followed.

The following are the highlights of the new laws:

  • To create a transfer on death designation, the owner must submit an Application for Title that is available online or at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”), which contains a designation of beneficiary effective upon the owner’s death;
  • Importantly, the owner retains full rights in the vehicle, meaning, he or she can still sell the vehicle, remove the beneficiary, or change the beneficiary designation by submitting a new Application to the DMV at any time before the owner’s passing;
  • The beneficiary’s rights to the vehicle do not arise until after the owner passes away; and
  • Within 180 days of the owner passing away, the beneficiary must submit the old title, a new Application for Title, and proof of the owner’s death (generally, the death certificate) to the DMV.

If you would like to discuss this or other smart estate planning steps further, please give us a call at (972) 239-6200 or e-mail me at Chris@psmclaw.com.

A Registered Trademark Could be the Key to Growing a Successful Business

One of our main practice areas here at Prevost, Shaff, Mason & Carns, PLLC is business development and strategy, and our passion is to help our clients plan for the future and protect their accomplishments in every aspect of their lives.

When developing a successful business, one important facet is to create a strong, recognizable brand to further enhance the value of the company today and in the future if and when it sells. As such, we wanted to provide you with the ten best reasons to apply for a registered trademark:

  1. Discourages others from using confusingly similar marks in the first place by making the mark easy to find in a trademark availability search.
  2. Protects against registration of confusingly similar marks.
  3. Treats the mark as if used nationwide as of the application date, which is vital in a system in which first use wins.
  4. Provides nationwide notice of ownership of the mark as of the registration date.
  5. Serves as evidence of the validity and exclusive ownership of the mark for the goods and services listed in the registration.
  6. Grants the right to use the ® symbol when the mark is used for the goods and services listed in the registration.
  7. Grants the right to sue in federal court and, in certain cases, obtain treble damages and attorney fees.
  8. Entitles you to certain statutory damages in the case of counterfeiting.
  9. Provides a basis for foreign registrations, facilitating protection of your marks worldwide as business expands.
  10. Empowers US Customs and Border Protection to block imports that infringe the mark or are counterfeits.

Should you wish to discuss applying for a registered trademark, please give our office a call at (972) 239-6200 or e-mail me at olivia@psmclaw.com.

Keys to Raising Capital for Your Business

How to Put a Beneficiary Designation on Your Home and Save Thousands in Probate