For years now, one of the most common questions I hear is, “Can a DWI be sealed in Texas?” New and old clients alike have been coming to me concerned as to how a DWI charge would affect their present and future lives, and they all have had high hopes of a way to expunge that mark from their legal record. Though I’m a fighter for my clients’ rights, total DWI expungement has been nearly impossible — until a recent change for something close! DWI non-disclosure is now possible in Texas.
This long-anticipated opportunity for many drivers all across Texas to seal their DWI record is set to happen on September 1, 2017. Before you dive into celebrations, here’s your primer for everything you need to know about sealing that driving record and moving on with your life.
The “Second Chance” Bill to Seal a DWI in Texas
Earlier this summer, House Bill 3016 — also known as the “second chance” law — made it through the Texas Senate. This legislation is an expansion of another law passed in 2015 that gave nonsexual, nonviolent Class A and B misdemeanor offenders a second chance to clear their name of criminal wrongdoing. In other words, it’s now possible for low-level offenders, such as a DWI offender, to conceal their past charges so that a simple mistake doesn’t have to follow them for the rest of their life. This means a DWI can be sealed in Texas, via an order of nondisclosure.
To further broaden the scope of who the law would potentially help, H.B. 3016 will also be retroactive. All who had DWI convictions before, on or after the effective date of September 1st will qualify – provided some criteria are met. What are they?
The Fundamental Musts
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) or breath must have been < 0.15
- No official accident with another person
- Successful completion of probation
- All fines and costs associated were paid in full
- No prior criminal history other than traffic offenses
- Waiting period: 2+ years since DWI probation (requires an car interlock for 6+ months); 5+ years since DWI probation (no interlock)
What is Covered in Sealing Your DWI
When your DWI is sealed in Texas, the law blocks a DWI from your public record. Then, potential employers and landlords won’t be able to see it when they run your name against a preliminary background check. This allows you to check “no” when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime on your employment applications (awesome!).
While the second chance law isn’t quite the same as a complete expungement, a sealed record still means that your DWI charge/conviction is protected from lower level public records. Your past conviction and arrest would only be disclosed to government agencies and boards. Depending on the specifics of your DWI case, you may have options for expunging your record.
The Process of Requesting Nondisclosure
If everything listed above is you, congrats! You and your lawyer will now need to request an order of nondisclosure from the courts along with evidence of successful completion to any and all sentencing related to the qualifications of this process. Once the court is satisfied with the provided evidence, you will hit a home run to relief of the DWI on your record.
Ready for a fresh start?
Although most DWIs will not qualify for expunction, drivers who meet the mentioned qualifications can and should pursue having their charges sealed. If you’re either ready to move on with your life or aren’t sure about qualifications, contact Thiessen Law Firm to get the ball rolling. We’ll analyze the factors at play in your case and help you seal your record smoothly should your case meet the full requirements.
Don’t spend another day hiding from your past. Contact a trial-tested Houston DWI lawyer at Thiessen Law Firm today for a free consultation to begin the process of sealing your record.