Every time you are arrested and charged with a crime in Texas, there is a record of it. In other words, if you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, charged with DWI, or convicted of DWI in Texas, these records will be available to anyone who conducts a background check on you.
Having a DWI arrest, charge, or conviction on your criminal record can make it difficult to find employment or even a place to live. Having DWI charges on your criminal record can negatively affect your life for years to come.
Fortunately, you may be able to get your DWI charges expunged. You may qualify to get your DWI-related criminal records expunged or sealed. If you wonder how you can get your DWI charges expunged, consult with a Belton criminal defense attorney. (What is the Role of a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney in My Case?)
Do You Qualify to Expunge Your DWI Charges in Texas?
If you have been arrested and charged with DWI but never convicted of it, you may be able to get your DWI charges expunged. You can qualify for an expungement of DWI charges if any of the following conditions are met:
Under the age of 21. If you were under the age of 21 when you were arrested for drunk driving and were not convicted of any alcohol-related offense in Texas, you might be able to get your DWI expunged.
DWI charges were never filed. If you got arrested for driving while intoxicated but DWI charges were never filed, you might be able to have your arrest expunged from your criminal record.
DWI case was dismissed. If you were arrested for DWI but your case was subsequently dismissed by the court, your DWI arrest record will remain on your record unless you take steps to have it expunged. You may qualify for an expunction of your DWI because there was never a final conviction.
Not guilty of DWI. If you went to trial with your DWI case and were found not guilty, records related to your DWI arrest will remain on your criminal record unless you ask the court to expunge those records.
Won appeal. If you appealed a DWI conviction and won, you can get all of your DWI-related records expunged from your criminal record.
If you qualify for an expunction and the court expunges your DWI charges and other records related to your DWI arrest, you can legally say that you have never been arrested for a crime unless driving while intoxicated is not the only crime on your record.
You Can Seal Your DWI Conviction in Texas
In addition to expunging records related to your DWI arrest and charges, you may also be eligible to get your DWI conviction sealed. This was not possible until 2017 when Texas enacted a law permitting the sealing of DWI convictions for first-time offenders.
If you are eligible to get your DWI conviction sealed, you will have to file a petition for an order of non-disclosure. If a Texas court grants your petition, the DWI conviction will be sealed. When your DWI conviction is sealed, it will no longer be a public record, which means prospective employers, landlords, or other people conducting a background check will not see that you have ever been convicted of drunk driving.
However, just because you can get your DWI conviction sealed does not mean that law enforcement agencies will forget that you have been convicted. The conviction will still be accessible to law enforcement and certain public agencies.
Are You Eligible to Get Your DWI Conviction Sealed in Texas?
Your DWI conviction will be sealed as long as you meet the following requirements:
This was your first DWI conviction;
This was your only DWI conviction;
Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was not higher than .15% at the time of the arrest;
You have never been convicted of boating or flying while intoxicated;
You have no other convictions on your criminal record;
You have not received a deferred judgment for any criminal offense;
You have successfully completed all of the terms of your DWI sentence; and
The DWI did not cause a motor vehicle accident or bodily injury to another individual.
If you meet all of the above-mentioned requirements, you may be eligible to get your DWI conviction sealed by filing a petition for an order of non-disclosure. You must also wait a certain number of years before asking the court to seal your conviction in Texas.
Is There a Waiting Period to Seal a DWI Conviction in Texas?
Yes, Texas law imposes a mandatory waiting period for the sealing of DWI convictions. Depending on the circumstances of your DWI case, you will be required to wait either two or five years to seal the conviction.
You must wait two years to seal a DWI conviction if your sentence required you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) and you had it installed for at least six months.
You must wait five years to seal a DWI conviction if your sentence did not require you to install an IID.
You can file a petition for an order of non-disclosure to get your DWI conviction sealed as soon as you have waited the required number of years of the waiting period.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near You
If you have been arrested or charged with DWI in Belton or other parts of Texas, the first thing you should do is speak with an attorney. There may be a chance to get your charges dismissed, which would make the process of expunging your DWI charges much easier in the long run.
If you do nothing about your DWI charges, arrest, or conviction, it may stay on your criminal record forever.
Our attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard are dedicated to helping clients facing DWI charges avoid a conviction or reduce the penalties. Let’s discuss your case to determine how you can get your DWI charges expunged. Call 254-501-4040 to get a case review.