Convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) can have a significant impact on a person's record. For instance, certain charges or convictions can make it challenging to successfully pass a criminal background check, which might be required for certain jobs, colleges, loans, or rental agreements. Since 2017, Texans can apply for nondisclosure orders to seal specific criminal records, such as DWIs, thanks to HB 3016, according to the Texas state legislature. To learn how to seal a DWI record in Austin, Texas, to prevent others from seeing your DWI conviction, consider contacting an experienced defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548.
What Are Orders of Nondisclosure?
Orders of nondisclosure, or sealed records, stop the general public from viewing a person's criminal record, enabling the person to essentially hide a criminal past. While the public cannot see convictions that have been ordered sealed, law enforcement agencies, federal and state authorities, and government employers can still access these records.
Understanding HB 3016
House Bill 3016, known as the second chance bill, allows people who have been convicted of certain misdemeanors, including DWIs, to ask the court to grant a nondisclosure order. This law applies only to misdemeanors that do not involve violent acts. HB 3016 also allows people to seek a nondisclosure order if the judge denied an automatic order because he or she felt that it was not in the public interest to do so.
In addition, HB 3016 altered the waiting period for obtaining orders of nondisclosure in Texas. Since the law's enaction, a person can petition for a nondisclosure order on a misdemeanor offense that involves a fine and no jail time, such as a first-time DWI, after meeting certain requirements. A person who was convicted of a more serious misdemeanor can apply for a nondisclosure order two years after completing the sentence.
Benefits of Sealing DWI Charges
DWI charges can remain on a driver's record in Texas unless he or she asks the court to seal the record. By sealing a DWI charge, the public can no longer access a record of the offense. This allows the individual to apply for work, education, housing, or government programs without risk of repercussions from that criminal past. Moreover, after sealing a DWI charge, the individual need not provide details regarding the incident when being questioned under oath. The only requirement under those circumstances is to mention that the arrest took place.
What Are the Requirements for Sealing a DWI in Texas?
Orders of nondisclosure are only available for certain DWIs. Therefore, learning the requirements for sealing a DWI in Texas can be useful. The following requirements must be met in most cases:
- The driver did not receive a class A DWI misdemeanor conviction involving a 0.15 BAC or higher
- The DWI did not involve an accident with other people, even if the incident resulted in no injuries to all involved
- The individual had no previous convictions with the exception of minor traffic infringements
Those who do not meet these criteria will unlikely be eligible for a nondisclosure order to seal a DWI charge. If you are unsure about your potential eligibility and wish to learn how to seal a DWI record, a seasoned criminal defense attorney from Jason S. English Law, PLLC, may be able to help.
How Long Does It Take To Get a DWI Sealed in Texas?
The waiting period for sealing a DWI in Texas depends on several factors. Delays occur if the driver received probation or was required to have an interlock device installed for a minimum of six months. The waiting periods are generally as follows:
- If the driver received probation, completed the requirements of the sentence, and drove a vehicle with an installed interlock device for a minimum of six months, he or she may seek a nondisclosure order two years after formally completing the probation
- If the driver completed a sentence without finishing probation and drove a vehicle with an installed interlock device for a minimum of six months, he or she may seek a nondisclosure order three years after completing the sentence
- If the driver did not have an interlock device installed for a minimum of six months, he or she may apply for a nondisclosure order five years after the completion of either a sentence or probation
When May a Texas Court Deny an Order of Nondisclosure?
In Texas, a court may deny a nondisclosure order for several reasons, including previous DWI offenses. According to the Texas Criminal Code, the court may not issue a nondisclosure order if the individual who committed the offense also has a conviction for one of the following offenses:
- Sex crimes requiring registration
- Human trafficking
- Injuries to children
- Assaulting a disabled person
- Elder abuse
- Child endangerment or abandonment
- Court order violations regarding violent situations, including family violence
- Family violence offenses
Petitioning for an Order of Nondisclosure
If a driver identifies his or her eligibility to seal DWI records, this person must submit paperwork to the court. To improve a person's chances that the judge will approve a petition for a nondisclosure order, it is important to pay attention to every detail. The following steps will be followed from petition to judgment:
- The petition should include the petitioner's contact information, details regarding the incident and arrest, the location of the offense, the date of the offense and the date of the arrest, and details regarding the arresting officer
- The judge then sets a hearing date. The hearing will allow law enforcement officials to recommend whether or not to grant the order of nondisclosure
- The judge will then decide whether to grant or reject the petition
- If granted, the judge will sign a written order that will be sent to the appropriate parties
Contact a DWI Lawyer for Help Today
When a person is able to seal a DWI offense, that person may then have better access to employment, education, or housing opportunities. Additionally, sealing a record may help to improve a person's reputation within the local community. To learn how to seal a DWI record and determine whether your record may be eligible for a nondisclosure order, consider contacting an experienced defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548