Everyone makes mistakes. In some cases, the consequences of those mistakes can be far harsher than anticipated, and some even linger and continue to cause trouble years after the fact. Most people have no idea that a single DWI conviction can continue to cause problems, even years after the case has been closed. In some cases people are forced to bear those penalties on their record, leading to situations where a temporary lapse of judgement can influence the rest of their life.
In most cases, your first DWI conviction in Texas is counted as a Class B Misdemeanor, which means that you won’t go straight to a felony conviction on your record. However, a conviction for a DWI will still leave you with a criminal record, which is accessible any time a private company or public entity tries to run a background check on you. Background checks can influence a number of aspects in life, including for employment and housing applications. Having a criminal record can make it difficult to get jobs in certain industries, and it has the potential to limit your options for housing as well. Beyond the obvious legal ramifications, people often overlook the impact a DWI conviction can have in situations like this, or they think that once the case is closed their situation is resolved.
In 2017, the Texas legislature passed House Bill 3016, which allows people convicted of a single DWI to apply for an Order of Non-Disclosure once they meet certain requirements. If granted, the petition effectively seals the DWI conviction, which makes it impossible to access by private companies or the general public. The law does not, however, allow for complete expunction of the DWI; the record will still be available to law enforcement and government agencies. For most people, though, sealing the DWI will stop the record from appearing in background check results and allow you to get on with your life.
To be eligible for concealment of your Texas DWI, you must:
- It must be your first DWI.
- You can’t have been convicted of any other offenses or placed on deferred adjudication in another case, with the exception of minor traffic violations.
- You did not cause a motor vehicle accident when driving while intoxicated.
- You were not convicted of having a blood alcohol concentration higher than .15.
- You have complied with and/or successfully completed all other terms associated with your DWI sentencing, including classes, treatment, payment of fines, probation, etc.
- You completed the minimum waiting period after your conviction.
The waiting period to petition the court for the Order of Non-Disclosure varies based on the terms of your conviction.
- If your sentence included probation and required the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for at least six months, the waiting period is 2 years from the end of your probation.
- If your sentence included jail time and required the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for at least six months, the waiting period is 3 years from the end of your jail sentence.
- If your sentence did not require you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, then the minimum waiting period to petition the court for DWI concealment is 5 years, regardless of whether you were given probation or served jail time.
The eligibility requirements to petition the courts for concealment of your DWI are clear, but the process for completing the petition can be complex and confusing. If the process is still unclear, or you’re unsure whether or not your particular case falls within the limitations or timeline of the requirements, it can be immensely beneficial to contact a DWI attorney. An experienced DWI attorney can help you make the most of this opportunity for a fresh start.
Having an experienced DWI lawyer can make or break your case. Attorneys who focus on a certain area of law tend to have a better grasp on all the intricacies involved with these types of cases. From the district attorney and judges in their county, to the specific laws and regulations of the counties of Texas they serve.
Your attorney will review your petition and accompanying documentation to ensure everything is in order and help you through every step of the process. Working with an attorney experienced in alcohol-related offenses will ensure you have met all the court’s requirements and ultimately give you the best possible chance to have your DWI concealed.