Many of us love drinking our alcohol. Whether it’s a nice cup of wine after a long day at work, mimosas during a Sunday brunch with the nice breezy wind blowing in our face, or the taquila/vodka shots at a party, alcohol is something that gets consumed by many individuals on a daily/weekly basis. With that consumption of alcohol also comes the risks involved, which leads to laws implemented to prevent people from consuming too much alcohol in public places. It is no surprise that the most common crime in 2016, according to the Department of Public Safety Texas Arrest Data, was driving under the influence and drunkenness (or public intoxication). These crimes combined to account for 126,681 arrests in 2016. With those 126,681 arrests also come criminal convictions which case criminal records. Some cases get dismissed while the majority of DWI convictions lead to a conviction or probation. If your case was dismissed, great news, that means you can expunge your records (meaning you can apply to get the records off your case and destroyed completely as if it never happened; in fact, you can legally deny having ever been arrested.) But what if you had a DWI conviction or went on probation?
Prior to September 1, 2017, individuals having been convicted (conviction includes if the individual served probation for the offense) of a DWI had no hope of ever having a clean criminal background record. Many crimes can be sealed (but not expunged, unless it was a regular dismissal, for which the difference was explained in a previous blog) if an individual successfully completed probation on a deferred adjudication plea. However, DWI has been an exception to the deferred adjudication plea. One could not be placed under deferred adjudication probation for a DWI offense. Therefore, prior to September 2017, the only way for an individual to get a DWI off his/her record would be if the case was dismissed. If any probation was ordered or the person was convicted, he/she was out of luck.
In September 2017, HB 3016 (codified in chapter 411 of the Texas Government Code) became effective law which allows certain DWI convictions to be eligible for nondisclosure (or more commonly known as “sealed”.) This prevent most employers and entities, except for government agencies, from being able to see the records.
What Are the Requirement of HB 3016?
A person may petition to have a DWI sealed only if he/she:
- has never been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision (probation) for another offense-this does not include a traffic offense (punishable by fine only);
- did not have blood alcohol content or breath BAC of 0.15 or above.
- has successfully completed any imposed community supervision and any term of confinement;
- has paid all fines, costs, and restitution imposed; and
- the waiting period has elapsed; and
- The DWI did not result in a motor vehicle accident involving another person (including and passengers of the defendant.)
How Long Is the Waiting Period?
2 years if the person successfully completed a period of at least six months of driving restricted to a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device as a part of the sentence; or
5 years if there was no interlock requirement as part of the sentence.
My Conviction Occurred Prior to September 2017, Am I Still Eligible?
Yes, the new law applies retroactively regardless of the date of conviction. This means it does not matter when the conviction occurred as long as the above reference waiting period has elapsed.
Contact A.T. Law Office for a Free Consult
If you are wondering whether you can seal or expunge any records, including a DWI, it’s important to speak to a criminal defense attorney right away. If you need an expunction attorney or nondisclosure attorney in North Houston, Woodlands, Klein, Tomball, Cypress, FM 1960, Galveston, and surrounding areas, call the A.T. Law Firm for a free consultation. We also travel to different counties including but not limited to Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Ford Bend County, Waller County, and Brazoria County. Contact the A.T. Law Firm by calling (832) 800-5590 for a free consultation.