Sealing Your DWI Conviction

New Texas “Second Chance” Law, effective 9/1/2017

Nondisclosure for First-Time DWI and Other Offenses

Prior to new legislation proposed by the Texas Legislature, a person who was convicted of a DWI, had a lifelong conviction that was visible to the public and appeared in all background checks. That individual then had a criminal record impacting their ability to be gainfully employed, obtain loans and live in apartments. Even a DWI conviction, although a non-violent offense, can impact your life drastically. Our Texas legislature recognized that thousands of good people, who have successfully completed a DWI probation, are negatively impacted by a DWI on their criminal history. Texas lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have now expanded the opportunity to seal your DWI conviction with an order of non-disclosure.

What is an Order of Non-Disclosure?

The most common way to seal your criminal record is by filing a Petition for Non-Disclosure. This petition is typically filed after a successful completion of deferred adjudication, and now also a DWI conviction after successfully completing a DWI probation, starting 9/1/2017. Orders of non-disclosure “seal” a criminal record from the eyes of the general public and allow a person to deny such record in most situations. However, the offense will remain visible to law enforcement, state and federal authorities, and employers in government fields.

Non-Disclosures Prior to House Bill 3016

Before the legislature acted in 2017, the Texas Government Code required a court to issue an order of nondisclosure of criminal records for a person receiving discharge and dismissal of certain nonviolent misdemeanors for which the person was placed on deferred adjudication community supervision (probation). The code also allowed for some “second-chance” considerations under limited circumstances. However, the Texas Government Code did not previously allow for nondisclosure of DWI offenses under any scenario.

Qualifications for DWI Non-Disclosure

HB 3016 now allows a person convicted of a first-time Driving While Intoxicated offense with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) less than 0.15 to petition for an order of non-disclosure of criminal history related to that offense. However, there are certain criteria that must be met to be eligible to petition for a non-disclosure of a Texas DWI.

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);
  • 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:
    • Two years if the personsuccessfully 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
    • Five years if there was no interlock requirement as part of the sentence.

Additionally, the court will not issue an order of nondisclosure if an attorney representing the state presents evidence sufficient to the court that demonstrates that the underlying offense, for which the order was sought, resulted in a motor vehicle accident involving another person (this includes a passenger of the defendant).

When may you Petition the Court for an Order of Non-Disclosure for a DWI?

The law requires individuals to wait until the second anniversary of the date of completion of their sentence, if the person:

  • complied with all conditions of the sentence for a period not less than six months; and
  • was restricted to operation of a motor vehicle equipped with an interlock device for at least six months.

If the court did not impose the above conditions, they are required to wait until the fifth anniversary of the date of completion of their sentence.

NOTE: Having a first-time DWI sealed by an Order of Non-Disclosure will NOT prevent another DWI from being charged as a DWI (Misdemeanor Repetition).

What are the Disqualifying Factors for DWI Sealing?

A person may NOT have their DWI record sealed if:

  • The DWI was a second or third offense;
  • The DWI involved a finding that the Blood-Alcohol Content was greater than 0.15;
  • The DWI involved an accident with another person;
  • The DWI was within the last two years (five years if there was not interlock requirement)*

*If the waiting period has not expired, but all other conditions are met, the applicant must simply wait until the waiting period is complete.

For more information on Sealing your DWI conviction call Gary Tabakman at 713-331-9457 or email at Gary@GTlawfirm.com.