How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?
If you have been arrested for a DWI or DUI in Texas, it is likely that one of your primary concerns that you shared with your DWI lawyer is making certain that your DWI or DUI does not remain on your criminal record.
If your blood alcohol concentration level was under .08, there is a very good chance that your DWI lawyer was able to resolve your case in a manner that would qualify you for an expunction. However, if your blood alcohol concentration level was over .08, you may still qualify for a non-disclosure.
In order to make certain that your DWI case can be removed from your criminal record, it is important to know the rules for getting a DWI expunged or sealed from your criminal record.
It is a common misconception that a DWI conviction will “drop off” your record after a certain period of time. Some people believe they must only wait 7 years or 10 years and the DWI will automatically fall off their record.
However, this is not true according to Texas law.
Under Texas DWI law, a final conviction for a DWI that does not meet the conditions mentioned below, is a conviction that remains on your criminal record for the remainder of your life. In other words, if your DWI case is not resolved in the right way, your DWI arrest and record will remain on your criminal record forever.
As such, it is critical that if your DWI case has not yet been resolved, you must make certain that you are working with a DWI lawyer that has experience and a proven track record of not only delivering on positive results on DWI cases but also has a thorough understanding of the rules that must be met for a DWI charge and arrest to be cleared from your criminal record
Let’s examine the rules.
Can I Get My DWI Case Expunged From My Criminal Record?
In order for your DWI to qualify for an expunction in Texas, you must have either received a not guilty verdict at a jury trial or a dismissal prior to trial. These are the only instances in which a DWI case is eligible for an expunction.
If your DWI case has been dismissed, you must wait a period of 2 years from the date of the dismissal (Applies to Misdemeanor DWI charges) before you can file a petition for expunction and have your DWI arrest and charges destroyed. If your DWI case was a felony and it was dismissed or no billed by a grand jury, you will be required to wait a period of 3 years from the date of the dismissal or no bill before you are eligible to file for an expunction of all DWI records.
If you took your DWI case to a jury trial and received a not guilty verdict, you are eligible to file a petition for expunction to clear your arrest and DWI case records IMMEDIATELY! No wait is required for a not guilty verdict at a DWI trial in Texas.
It is not uncommon for our criminal law firm to represent clients that must have their DWI case dismissed and expunged from their record. Certain employment positions or careers require that the DWI case must be dismissed and expunged or face loss of employment or a license revocation for a type of occupation.
For example: we represented a US Marshall that was arrested for a DWI in Fort Worth, Texas. According to his employment arrangement, if he received a conviction for any crime other than a Class Misdemeanor citation, he would not only be terminated, he could lose his retirement pension as well. This required a jury trial to take all efforts to clear his criminal record of the DWI arrest and charges.
Can I Get My DWI Case Sealed or Non-Disclosed From My Criminal Record?
Until recently, DWI cases in Texas were not eligible for a non-disclosure. As a reminder, a non-disclosure is a legal tool that allows someone to have their arrest and case records sealed from public view and/or the existence of the charge to be used against them.
In 2015, Texas Government Code Section 411.0731 and 411.0736 were provided by the Texas Legislature to provide non-disclosure options for DWI cases involving DWI probations and jail sentences. In 2019, Texas Government Code Section 411.0726 was added to cover DWI deferred adjudications.
To be eligible for a DWI nondisclosure, you must have been convicted for a DWI that was NOT classified as a DWI over .15 enhancement under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04(d), or received a deferred adjudication for any DWI offense under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 or 49.06.
This is important – you must meet the following conditions to be eligible for a DWI nondisclosure:
- You must have successfully completed your DWI sentence
- You must have paid all your DWI fines, costs and restitution required, if any by the plea agreement.
- You must not have had ANY prior convictions or deferred adjudications for any crime other than a class C citation.
- You must also show that it is in the interest of justice to grant the nondisclosure order on your DWI case.
Additionally, if the State of Texas is able to prove that your DWI involved a motor vehicle accident involving another person, you will NOT be eligible for a nondisclosure. In fact, the car accident does not have to involve injuries or damages, just the presence of another person at the scene of the accident – including any passenger’s in your car.
For instance, what if your DWI involved a one-car accident in which you were the only person in the car? Here, you would be eligible for a nondisclosure. However, if your DWI involved a minor single car accident with a passenger in your car, you would NOT be eligible for a nondisclosure. I know it seems arbitrary and makes no sense whatsoever, but these are the rules the Texas Legislature put in place for sealing your DWI records from public view.
What does “interest of justice” mean? This is a very subjective term and can create a bit of uncertainty when you are seeking to get your DWI records sealed or removed from your criminal record. Generally, some examples of how a criminal court judge may rule that it is not in the interest of justice is if you picked up any crimes AFTER the completion of your DWI probation. Many judges will see this situation as though you did not learn your lesson and allowing you to seal the DWI would not be in the interest of justice. Other examples of not being “in the interest of justice” is if the facts of the DWI were egregious enough to warrant the judge deciding the case should not be sealed – such as the case started as a Felony Intoxication Assault charge and was later dropped to the lesser charge of DWI. The judge may find those aggravating facts may warrant deny the request in the “interest of justice.”
How Long Must I Wait Until I Can Get My DWI Nondisclosed?
Texas DWI law sets different waiting periods for a nondisclosure based upon the type of sentence you received and whether you had an ignition interlock device as a requirement of your DWI probation. First, let me be clear – you can only seek a non-disclosure on a first offender DWI case. If you are facing a DWI 2nd or greater charge, you will not be eligible for a non-disclosure under Texas DWI law.
If you received a Deferred Adjudication probation on your qualifying DWI case, you must wait 2 years from the completion of your DWI deferred adjudication before you are eligible to file for a nondisclosure.
If you received a straight probation or community supervision on your DWI case, how long you must wait to file for a nondisclosure will depend upon whether you had an ignition interlock device as a condition of your DWI probation. If you volunteered or were required to have an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months of your probation, the waiting period for a DWI nondisclosure is 2 years.
If you were sentenced to a jail sentence for your DWI case, you must wait a period of 3 years if you complied with a condition of sentence requiring an ignition interlock for at least 6 months.
What if you completed a probation for DWI but did not have an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months? Under this situation, you must wait 5 years before you are eligible for a DWI nondisclosure.
What Steps Must I Take To Get My DWI Nondisclosed?
If you have completed your DWI deferred adjudication or probation and qualify based upon the conditions listed above and have waited the statutory time frame for eligibility, you must then do the following:
- File a Petition for Nondisclosure with the County Criminal Court,
- Pay a $275 – $325 filing fee to the County
- Attend a Nondisclosure hearing and receive the judge’s signature on the court orders
- Ensure all the appropriate agencies receive copies of the court orders for compliance. Upon receiving the court orders for non-disclosure, the agencies will be given a deadline date by which they must comply with sealing of all DWI records. Failure to do so can result in significant civil penalties under Texas law.
If you need assistance getting your DWI case expunged or nondisclosed from your criminal record in Tarrant County or Dallas County, Texas, don’t hesitate to contact The Hampton Law Firm for a free consultation.
Just remember – the best way to ensure you can get your DWI case off your criminal record, is to resolve your DWI case in the right way! Once your DWI case has been resolved by a plea, there is nothing the best DWI attorney in Fort Worth can do to undo the plea to make you eligible for a non-disclosure. If you, a friend or a loved one is fighting a DWI case right now, make sure that your DWI lawyer knows these rules and has a proven track record of resolving DWI cases in a manner that protects your rights to the options we mentioned above. If you would like a free consultation regarding your DWI case, don’t hesitate to contact the Hampton Law Firm. One of our team of Former Prosecutors with 80 years of criminal law experience and over 400 DWI trials would be happy to assist you and provide you a plan of action for your DWI case.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.
criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.