Can a DWI be Expunged in Texas? Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offenses can have lasting consequences on an individual’s personal and professional life. Fortunately, in Texas, there are legal mechanisms in place to provide a second chance and help individuals move forward from their past mistakes. This article will shed light on DWI expungement in Texas, including whether a felony DWI conviction can be expunged. Additionally, we will touch upon the recent implementation of the Texas DWI Second Chance Law, which aims to give deserving individuals an opportunity for a fresh start.
Expungement is the legal process of permanently erasing records of an arrest. In Texas, however, DWI expungement is generally not available for those convicted of the charge. Unlike some states where certain misdemeanors can be expunged after a certain period, Texas has specific provisions that limit the expungement of DWI convictions.
Unfortunately, under normal circumstances, DWI convictions cannot be expunged in Texas. This means that even if an individual has completed their sentence, attended mandatory classes, or demonstrated consistent sobriety, the conviction will remain on their record. However, it is crucial to consult with an attorney to explore alternative avenues for reducing the impact of a DWI conviction because it may be possible to get the conviction sealed from the public.
How to Get a Felony DWI Expunged
Texas law does not allow for the expungement of felony DWI convictions. As felony offenses carry more severe penalties and are generally considered more serious crimes, the legal system views them differently. The rationale is to ensure public safety and maintain the integrity of criminal records. However, there may be options available for reducing the impact of a felony DWI on one’s life, such as seeking a pardon from the governor or pursuing a legal process called “non-disclosure.”
Texas law allows for the possibility of expungement, which effectively erases the criminal record associated with a DWI arrest and charge. In this blog post, we will guide you through the steps required to pursue expungement in Texas.
*Understand the eligibility criteria: Before initiating the expungement process, it is crucial to determine whether you are eligible for expungement under Texas law. Generally, individuals who have been acquitted of a DWI charge—meaning the defendant went to trial and was found not guilty in court—qualify for expungement. There are many different reasons why a case gets dismissed such as an illegal stop, illegal detention, false evidence, lack of evidence, completing a pre-trial intervention program, and other possible scenarios as well. The different reasons for dismissal determine when records are eligible for expunction. It is important to consult with an attorney to assess your specific situation and determine eligibility.
*Begin with a clean slate: After satisfying the eligibility criteria, it is a good idea to hire an experienced attorney who specializes in criminal defense that handles expunction and non-disclosure matters. A lawyer who has experience with these types of cases can help you navigate the complex legal system, ensure proper documentation, and guide you throughout the process. A lawyer who knows how to handle these cases can potentially get you through it without you ever having to step foot into court.
*Obtain an expunction petition: To move forward, your attorney will file a petition for expunction in the county where you were arrested. This petition formally requests the court to order the law enforcement agencies involved in the DWI arrest to destroy all records, including police reports, court records, and even fingerprint records.
*Gather supporting documents: Ensure that you have all pertinent documents related to your DWI case, such as court orders, arrest reports, dismissal paperwork, or any other evidence that validates your eligibility for expungement. These documents will support your claim during the court proceedings. A criminal defense lawyer will know where to go to find these records.
*Prepare for the hearing: After accepting the petition, the court will schedule a hearing to determine the outcome of your expungement request. Your attorney will represent you during this hearing and present arguments based on your eligibility and the supporting evidence at hand.
*Await the court’s decision: After carefully considering the arguments and evidence, the judge will issue a decision regarding your expungement request. If the court grants your petition, all records associated with your DWI arrest held by law enforcement will be destroyed, effectively eliminating the criminal record.
*Rebuilding your life: With the expungement granted, you can now start the process of rebuilding your life free from the burdens of a criminal record. It is essential to keep a copy of the expungement order as proof that your record has been expunged, which may be required when applying for jobs, housing, or other opportunities that require background checks. Another critical step is making sure that criminal background check companies get notified about the expunction order because not all of them get notified about the process with the court.
Texas DWI Second Chance Law
Even though DWI expungement remains limited in Texas, recent legislation has paved the way for a “second chance” for certain individuals. The Texas DWI Second Chance Law, which was enacted in 2017, allows first-time DWI offenders in select cases to have their records sealed upon successful completion of their sentence. It may also be used to help seal records for someone charged with a felony DWI with child passenger, DWI manslaughter or DWI assault whose charge is reduced to a misdemeanor. This means that even though the records are not destroyed, it will not be visible to the public, potentially providing individuals with better employment opportunities and fewer consequences from the case.
Ready for a Second Chance?
While DWI expungement in Texas remains closed to people convicted of the offense, the implementation of the Texas DWI Second Chance Law is a step towards granting deserving individuals an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Even if you are convicted of a DWI offense, consult with an experienced attorney who can guide individuals through alternative strategies for mitigating the impact of a DWI record. Everyone deserves a second chance, and seeking legal assistance can lead to a brighter future. Contact Collin Evans Law online or by phone at (713) 225-0650 for a free consultation about how you can start your second chance.
Can A DWI Be Expunged In Texas? Consulting with an experienced attorney who handles expunction cases is your first step towards getting an expunction of the records for your case. Collin Evans has over 15 years of experience in handling expunction cases and can advise you of the best approach to clear your criminal records. Collin Evans Law is a Houston-based law practice that serves counties throughout Texas in expunction matters, including Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Walker County, Brazos County, Waller County and Brazoria County. Collin Evans is ready and waiting to answer your questions about Texas expunctions or other legal issues you might be facing. For a free consultation and more information about the legal services available, contact the team at Collin Evans Law, PLLC online or by phone at 713-225-0650.