In 2017, the Texas legislature passed a new law that could drastically impact the lives of people convicted for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The most important change to the law is that it applies to any first-time DWI case, not just the ones filed after the law went into effect. The new law provides that if you have never been convicted of an offense or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision, other than for a fine-only traffic offense, you may be eligible to have the records of the DWI case sealed from the public by filing a Petition for Non-Disclosure. To see if you qualify for filing a Petition for Non-Disclosure of Criminal Records, please give us a call at 713-225-0650 .
There are some conditions that could disqualify you from sealing a DWI case on your criminal record. First, in order to seal a DWI from the public, the case cannot involve an accident with another person. This includes a situation where a single car accident occurred and there was a passenger riding in the vehicle. Additionally, the person petitioning the court for the order must have:
- Successfully completed any community supervision and/or served any jail time
- Paid all fines, costs, and restitution (money owed for damages)
The law requires that the person convicted wait for a period of time before applying for the non-disclosure order. The waiting period depends on whether you were placed on probation or sentenced to jail time and/or a fine.
A person that completed community supervision can petition the court for an order of non-disclosure only on or after:
- Two years from the date of completion of the community supervision, if the court ordered as a condition of probation that the person install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for at least six months; or
- Five years from the date of completion of probation, if the court did not order an ignition interlock device as a condition.
A person that completes a jail term following a first DWI conviction can apply for sealing the record only on or after:
- Three years from the date of completion of the sentence, if the court ordered as a condition of the sentence that the person install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for at least six months; or
- Five years from the date of completion of jail time, if the court did not order an ignition interlock device as a condition.
Even if you meet all the requirements to file a Petition for Non-Disclosure of Criminal History, the judge could still deny the request. The judge has to be convinced that sealing the records from the public is in the “best interest of justice.” Furthermore, successfully obtaining the court order does not clear a criminal record or completely wipe a criminal background check clean. Additional steps are required to reduce the risk that the conviction continues to follow you for the rest of your life. To discuss your case with an attorney who has years of experience handling Non-Disclosure cases, please give us a call at 713-225-0650 .