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How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?

How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?

People often panic when arrested. It is easy to think the worst. But before giving up hope, let’s put things in perspective. First, remember that being arrested or charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty. Nor does it mean you will actually be convicted of the crime. This is why it is so important to hire an experienced Texas dwi attorney. However, if you should find yourself facing charges for driving while intoxicated in Texas, you may be wondering, “How long does a DWI stay on my criminal record?”

What Is An ‘Expungement’ Or ‘Expunction?’

Under Texas law, certain criminal charges can be removed from your record. This process is not automatic. You must apply for it. In many cases, the state will not challenge your request to remove criminal charges from your record. Other times, there will be a challenge. It really depends on the nature of the crime and facts of the case. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make a huge difference.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Case Dispositions?

The outcome of a case is sometimes called the “disposition.” The type of disposition you receive has a large impact on whether you can get the matter removed or “expunged” from your criminal record. There are a number of ways your case can turn out. The best-case scenario is that the prosecutor simply could choose not proceed. This will likely result in a dismissal, and it is most common when the evidence is simply not strong enough or was possibly obtained through illegal means, such as an unlawful search or a lack of probable cause.

Sometimes, however, you may receive something called “deferred adjudication.” Most states have some version of this. It is really just a plea bargain between you and the prosecutor that says if you meet a set of predetermined conditions over a certain period of time, your case will be dismissed. In exchange, you sign a plea agreement stating that you are guilty or claiming “no contest” to the charges. In short, you agree that if you receive another charge within that timeframe or fail to meet the conditions, then your case will be converted into a conviction. After all, you have already agreed to guilt or agreed not to contest the case.

Next, there are cases where the State of Texas may bring its case against you in court, yet you are victorious and win the case, resulting a not-guilty verdict. Finally, things could go the other way, resulting in a guilty verdict.

How Does The Case Disposition Affect Your Permanent Record?

Under Chapter 55 of the Texas Code, you have a right to expunge certain crimes from your record, provided the following general rules apply. Keep in mind that the Texas Criminal Code has numerous rules and exceptions that require careful legal analysis in order to fully determine whether your specific case is eligible.

Ultimately, you may be able to pursue an expunction if:

  • You were tried for a crime but were convicted then pardoned or were found not guilty at trial; or
  • You were charged but released and never convicted. For this to apply, however, you must not have received charges for a misdemeanor or felony based on the same crime, regardless of the applicable statute of limitations, and a certain amount of time has passed since the charges. The waiting period is as follows:
    • Class C Misdemeanors: 180 days from arrest
    • Class A or B Misdemeanors: 1 year from arrest
    • Felonies: 3 years from arrest

How Do I Expunge a DWI?

Like all crimes, a DWI in Texas gets assigned a level of severity, according to Texas DWI laws. Except in limited circumstances, the crime of driving while intoxicated is a Class B Misdemeanor, which means a minimum of 72 hours behind bars. Was there an open bottle in the car at the time of the offense? Your minimum time behind bars goes up to six days. Was your blood alcohol level over 0.15 percent? Now you have a Class A misdemeanor. So, depending on the classification of your offense, you may have more or less time to wait before you can remove it. Again, however, if you are convicted and never pardoned, then you have no right to expunge it from your record.

If you have been charged with DWI and are facing a potential misdemeanor conviction, or have caused injury to another, it is very important to contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney at Kraft & Associates, P.C. who can fight to get you the best possible disposition and ensure your driving record in Texas is clear. Even if you are completely innocent and your case is dismissed, you must still apply for expungement to remove it from your record. It is not automatic.


I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law, Social Security Disability, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning for Long Term Care, and VA Benefits.

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