One of the lasting effects of a drunk driving conviction in Texas is that it stays on your record for prospective employers, loan officers, university admissions officers, and others to find in background checks.
However, since 2017, Texas has provided relief to individuals with only one DWI conviction who meet other conditions. Many people who have been convicted of DWI can petition the court for “orders of nondisclosure,” which seals a criminal record from the eyes of the general public. If you obtain a court order sealing your DWI record, then you no longer have to disclose the offense under most circumstances.
Texas does not allow convicts to expunge DWI records. Even with orders of nondisclosure, a DWI conviction remains available to background checks by law enforcement, state and federal authorities, and employers in government.
The Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) defense lawyers of Kraft & Associates in Dallas can help you apply to seal your Texas DWI conviction record if you qualify. Contact us for a phone call from our staff within 24 hours to set up your initial consultation to discuss how.
Who is Eligible to Seal Their DWI Record in Texas?
The legislative bill signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2017 expanded the Texas Government Code to allow individuals convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors to petition the court for orders of nondisclosure under certain circumstances. The law included DWIs for the first time. It also altered the waiting period required to petition after certain other crimes.
If you qualify, you may have a first-time Driving While Intoxicated offense for which you registered a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.15 percent sealed by orders of nondisclosure.
First, you must have completed a waiting period of:
- 2 years if your sentence required you to attach an ignition interlock device to your vehicle.
- 5 years if there was no interlock requirement as part of the sentence.
You must also have:
- Completed any jail sentence or sentence of community supervision related to the DWI.
- Paid all fines, costs, and restitution imposed for the DWI conviction.
- Not been convicted, placed on probation, or had adjudication deferred for another offense. (This does not include traffic offenses punishable only by a fine.)
What Can Stop the Court from Sealing a DWI in Texas?
If you were arrested for DWI after an accident that involved someone else, even a passenger in your vehicle, the state may block your petition to seal the record. Also, several offenses related to alcohol consumption are not eligible for orders of nondisclosure:
- Possession and/or consumption of alcohol as a minor
- Selling alcohol to a minor
- Flying aircraft while intoxicated
- Boating while intoxicated
- Operating an amusement park ride while intoxicated.
Further, you may not have any Texas criminal record sealed if at any time you have been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication probation for:
- An offense requiring sex offender registration
- Capital murder
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Trafficking of persons
- Abandoning or endangering a child
- Any offense involving family violence, including violation of certain court orders or conditions of bond in a family, sexual assault or abuse, stalking, or trafficking case.
What is the Process for Sealing a DWI Conviction in Texas?
To have a DWI record sealed in Texas, you must follow the rules for filing a nondisclosure petition with the clerk of court in the county where you were convicted. Your petition is actually a package of documents that you must compile to demonstrate your eligibility to have a record sealed and to request it.
You may need one or more of the following documents, depending on your case:
- A copy of the judgment in your case
- A signed order or document showing that the judge reduced your period of deferred adjudication, probation or confinement, or granted you an early termination
- A signed order or document showing that you completed your deferred adjudication or probation, including any term of confinement imposed and payment of all fines, costs, and restitution imposed
- A discharge order (an order or document showing that you were discharged from probation or deferred adjudication)
- A discharge and dismissal order (an order showing that the judge set aside the verdict in your case or permitted you to withdraw your plea and dismissed the accusation, complaint, information, or indictment against you)
- A signed order or judgment reflecting any affirmative findings made by the judge, including any finding that it is not in the best interest of justice for you to receive an order of nondisclosure.
How a Dallas, Texas DWI Lawyer Can Help You
The Center for Public Interest Law at the University of Texas estimated a few years ago that 4.7 million adults in Texas have criminal records. A criminal record can restrict or eliminate employment opportunities, make it harder to find housing, and be the basis of denied access to government benefits, including student loans, food stamps, and cash assistance. These consequences harm not only the individual with the criminal record but also their children, families, and the wider community. For African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans, the implications of a criminal record are even worse.
At Kraft & Associates, P.C., we believe that no one should have to pay for a mistake forever. Having the record of a single DWI conviction sealed offers a chance to move on and not continue to be penalized for a past mistake by prospective employers, banks, credit agencies, universities, or landlords.
If you have met the requirements to have a single DWI on your record sealed in Texas, we would like to assist you. The steps required to seek and obtain a court order of nondisclosure include obtaining and submitting multiple documents to the court. We can take the burden of this work off of you and make sure your petition is complete and properly submitted.
Contact Kraft & Associates in Dallas. Our knowledgeable DWI defense lawyers can navigate the complex procedures on your behalf to seek an order to seal your DWI record. Contact us today.