A criminal record can ruin your entire life. Your family, job, and housing situation can all be affected by a single mistake.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow make that mistake go away? Now, Texans might just be able to.
In May, the Texas Senate approved House Bill 3016, which gives those who have been convicted of one-time, nonviolent misdemeanors a chance to ask a court to seal their criminal record from the public regardless of when it happened. More specifically, the new bill applies to class C misdemeanors – public intoxication, disorderly conduct, gambling, criminal trespassing… and first-time DWI convictions with a blood alcohol level under 0.15.
If the crime is determined to be violent or sexual in nature, though, then the new bill will not apply.
In addition to affecting future convictions, the bill also applies retroactively – to those who have been previously convicted.
Senator Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, says “The idea was to help people recover from mistakes that could make it difficult to get a job or housing and become productive members of society…Their lives shouldn’t be ruined by one bad decision.”
This is great news for anyone with a DWI on their record. It’s important to note, however, that the conviction won’t be erased from your criminal record. You will be applying for an order of non-disclosure, which means that law enforcement and those involved in sensitive industries such as education and banking will still be able to see the convictions, but the public will no longer have access to these records.
How Can I Get my DWI Sealed?
If you have a DWI on your criminal record, you can apply for an order of non-disclosure in Texas if you:
- Were not convicted of or placed on probation – deferred adjudication community supervision – for another offense, not including a traffic offense, which is usually only punished by a fine;
- Have successfully completed any probation, jail sentence, or condition of your conviction; and
- Have paid all necessary fines, costs, fees, and restitution.
If you meet all of these requirements, you will then have to look at the waiting period associated with your sentence. The waiting period applies to the anniversary of the date you completed your sentence.
You can apply for non-disclosure after two years if you successfully complete at least six months of driving a car with an ignition interlock device installed as part of your sentence.
If you weren’t required to have an ignition interlock device, you have to wait five years to apply for non-disclosure.
Unfortunately, if you received the DWI because of a car accident that involved another person – even if that person was just a passenger in your vehicle – you won’t be able to apply for non-disclosure.
Also, this only applies to first offenses. A second or third DWI cannot be sealed. Moreover, if you do get your first DWI sealed, a second DWI will still be charged as a DWI Misdemeanor Repetition.
Having a DWI conviction sealed can greatly improve your prospects for employment, education, housing, and leading a quality life. So if you’ve been convicted of a DWI and want to see if this new bill applies to you, contact an experienced Texas DWI attorney who will be able to look at your case and determine if your conviction can be sealed.
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.