Criminal records in Texas are typically public record. This means that if you have ever been arrested, charged, and/or convicted of DWI, anyone who runs a background check can find this information. As a result, it can be incredibly embarrassing and difficult to get a job, find a place to live, or even secure a financial loan. Your DWI arrest can haunt you for years after your arrest.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep your DWI from being discovered by the public. If you qualify, you can file a request to have your arrest, prosecution, and/or first-time conviction sealed. Sealing your record can help you get back to your normal life. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to find out if you qualify and -- if so -- how we can help you get your DWI expunged. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call for help today.
Qualifying to Have Your DWI Charges Expunged
Were you arrested and tried for DWI, but never formally convicted? Here's the good news: You may be eligible to have the records of your DWI arrest expunged.
In order to qualify for expunction, you must meet one of the following qualifications.
1. You Were a Minor When You Were Arrested for DUI.
If you were arrested for a DUI as a minor (under 21 for persons of this law) and were not convicted of any other violation under the Texas Alcoholic beverage code (minor in possession, minor in consumption, DUI, etc.) you should be eligible to expunge the DUI arrest and conviction. Why? Kids make mistakes, and the people of Texas approve of rehabilitation over punishment for youth offenders. Punishing you as an adult for your mistake as a kid does not serve that rehabilitative purpose.
2. DWI Charges Were Never Filed.
The fact that you have been arrested for DWI is available for public record. An employer or landlord running a background check will be able to see the details of all of your run-ins with the law, including the details of your arrest(s). If you were arrested, but never formally charged with a crime, you may ask to have your arrest record expunged. When the arrest is expunged, the fact that you were arrested for DWI will no longer exist. The court will also grant you the legal privilege of denying the fact that you were arrested for any crime that is expunged.
3. The Court Dismissed Your DWI Case.
If your DWI case is dismissed, your arrest record and charge still stay on your record. The DWI arrest does not automatically "fall off your record" unless you file a petition to have the record expunged (or destroyed). If your misdemeanor DWI was dismissed, a person is generally eligible for an expunction so long as they are not convicted of another crime out of the same arrest, or a felony.
4. You Were Found Not Guilty of DWI.
Did you take your DWI case to trial and win? Even if a judge or jury decided that you were not guilty, the fact that you were arrested and tried will still be on your criminal record. However, since were successful in court, you have the right to request an expunction of your DWI acquittal.
5. You Appealed Your DWI Conviction and Won.
You have the right to appeal any criminal conviction in the State of Texas. If you appeal your DWI conviction and win, you can also request to have all records of your DWI expunged. Getting your record expunged can help to keep the details of your arrest, trial, conviction, and appeal removed. An expungement can also allow you to truthfully say that you have never been convicted of a crime.
Have you been arrested and/or prosecuted for DWI in Harris County, but never convicted? Or, did you have your conviction overturned on appeal? If so, Houston DWI Attorney Doug Murphy can help you file a request to have your record expunged or sealed. Call us today to learn more.
Getting Your First-Time DWI Conviction Sealed
Until recently, DWI convictions could never qualify for an expungement in Texas. This proved to be quite devastating for many adults who were one-time offenders. The fact that they had been convicted of DWI prevented them from securing good-paying jobs, finding adequate housing, and even securing much-needed financial assistance. It can even be difficult to get into college or an institution of higher education if your record reflects a conviction for DWI.
In 2017, the state acknowledged that this was an unnecessary burden for first-time, non-violent DWI offenders. Both houses of the state legislature passed HB 3016, which was then signed by governor Greg Abbott on June 15, 2017. HB 3016 became effective on September 1, 2017, and permits the sealing of some first-time DWI convictions. The new law applies retroactively, which allows individuals convicted before that date to apply for sealing, too.
Request for Order of Non-Disclosure
If you qualify under HB 3016, you may request an order of non-disclosure. Non-disclosure is a form of expungement. When non-disclosure is granted, your DWI conviction will be sealed. When your conviction is sealed, it will not be part of the public record. This means that civilians running a background check will not be able to see that you have been convicted of DWI.
Sealing your record does not mean that it is destroyed. The fact that you have been convicted of DWI will still be maintained in federal and state databases and seen only by law enforcement agencies. These can be searched by government agencies, law enforcement, and government employers.
How Do I Qualify for a Sealing Of My DWI Conviction?
There are only certain circumstances under which a DWI conviction may be sealed. You may qualify if:
- This was your first and only DWI conviction.
- Your BAC did not exceed .15 percent.
- You were not convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) or flying while intoxicated (FWI).
- You have never been convicted of another crime.
- You have never received deferred judgment for another crime.
- You have completed all the terms of your probation and/or criminal sentence, including the payment of fines and restitution.
- Your DWI did not result in an accident or injury to another person.
If you satisfy all of these requirements, you may be eligible to request an Order of Non-Disclosure. However, you must also satisfy the state's mandatory waiting period.
Mandatory Waiting Period for Sealing of DWI Conviction
The waiting period to seal your DWI conviction will either be two years or five years, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
Two-Year Waiting Period: You must wait at least two years to request a sealing if:
- You were required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) as part of your sentence, and
- You have driven for at least 6 months subject to IID restrictions.
Five-Year Waiting Period: You must wait at least five years to request a sealing if your criminal sentence did not include an IID installation requirement.
Do you satisfy all of the criteria above, but have not yet satisfied the minimum applicable waiting period? That's okay. You can apply for an sealing as soon as two or five years have passed.
Get Help With Your Harris County DWI Expungement
Have you been arrested, charged, and/or convicted of DWI in Harris County? If so, it is important to find out if you qualify to have your record expunged. Expungement can help remove the records, while a petition for non-disclosure seals your DWI arrest records from the public, which can make your personal and professional life a lot easier in the long run. Contact the Houston DWI defense attorneys at Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to find out how Doug Murphy and his team will fight to help you get your life back after a DWI.