DWI’s non-disclosures in Texas
A new law took effect September 1, 2017 which may be of great value to you. This law will allow us to obtain an order of non-disclosure regarding DWI convictions. An order of non-disclosure causes the record of a DWI conviction to be sealed from public view and to prevent disclosure of the record of conviction to the public.
The order also allows a person to legally deny the existence of the DWI conviction, and means that the DWI conviction will not show up on a background check. Law enforcement will continue to maintain a record of the conviction and it can be used against a person if that person gets in criminal trouble again in the future or is accused of another DWI. If a person is applying for a job or a professional license with the state or federal government, the conviction will show up and could negatively affect that person.
How orders of non-disclosure work
Non-disclosure is a term used to refer to “sealing” a record/s. Non-disclosure orders effectively hide criminal convictions from the general public. In today’s world where background checks have become common, non-disclosure orders can help individuals hide criminal records, including DWI, which can make it hard to secure a job or a place to rent.
The law governing non-disclosure in Texas – House Bill 3016 ensures past criminal records are sealed. However, the records can still be seen by police, federal authorities, and the state. Before House Bill 3016, a person who had committed certain misdemeanors could be placed on probation or deferred adjudication supervision before being declared guilty. If such a person completed probation successfully, the case would be dismissed, and a non-disclosure order entered to seal the matter from the general public.
However, the law before House Bill 3016 didn’t allow DWI cases to be sealed. Effective 1st September 2017, persons convicted with DWI can under certain circumstances petition the court to seal their DWI record. The bill changed some waiting periods applicable to non-disclosure orders.
The new bill allows persons ineligible for automatic order of non-disclosure to request for non-disclosure. Previously, non-disclosure was denied for varied reasons such as an order failing to be in the interest of justice.
Currently, if you are involved in a misdemeanor punishable solely by a fine, you can petition the court to seal such records immediately after paying the fine. For misdemeanors involving punishments other than fines, you must wait for two years (from date of completing sentence) to petition the court to seal such records.
Conditions/criteria for petitioning the court to issue a non-disclosure order for a DWI
You must meet certain conditions before the court agrees to seal your DWI record. These conditions included:
- The DWI offense in question must be your first
- Your blood alcohol concentration (when you committed the DWI offense) has to be lower than 0.15
- You must have a clean criminal record i.e., you have never been convicted of other crimes. Also, you shouldn’t have a history of being placed on deferred adjudication community supervision. This condition doesn’t apply to minor traffic offenses.
- You must have successfully completed community supervision and served applicable jail time.
- You must have paid all due fines, court costs as well as any restitution that was part of your sentence.
- The waiting period must pass before you petition the court. A petition for non-disclosure on DWI offenses has specific guidelines.
For instance, you must wait for two years after successfully completing your sentence if you were ordered (as part of the restitution to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for 6 months or more). You must wait for five years after successfully completing your sentence if you weren’t ordered to install an ignition interlock device.
Orders of non-disclosure are denied if there is evidence (from the state) that the underlying DWI case resulted in an accident involving other persons, including a passenger/s who were in the defendant’s car at the time.
Crimes that aren’t subject to orders of non-disclosure
Some alcohol-related misdemeanors can’t be sealed using orders of non-disclosure. These misdemeanors include: boating while intoxicated, flying while intoxicated, selling alcohol to children/minors, and allowing minors to consume or possess alcohol. Also, DWI related offenses where blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 or more can’t be sealed.
Non-alcohol related crimes
There are non-alcohol related offenses that can’t be sealed using orders of non-disclosure. The offenses include aggravated kidnapping, murder, endangering or abandoning a child, offenses requiring a person to be registered as a sex offender, and offenses relating to family violence.
Entities that can still see your sealed DWI record
Non-disclosure doesn’t mean expunction. Your records aren’t deleted or destroyed. However, disclosure isn’t permitted unless specific circumstances are met. You, as a subject to the order, have access to the records. The same applies to criminal justice agencies. However, the use of such information is limited to regulatory licensing and criminal justice purposes. The list of agencies and entities capable of accessing your record is detailed under Texas Code sect 411.0765.
Criminal history records subjected to non-disclosure could also be accessed if federal laws require disclosure for other purposes, such as determining federal highway funds allotment.
Sealing DWI records from the public will make it easier to get a job, a home, and other opportunities. However, House Bill 3016 has specific guidelines that must be met for records to be sealed. Contact us NOW and get a FREE private consultation to know what you can do about your DWI record. We have lawyers whose sole responsibility is helping individuals like you get rid of DWI records.
If you were charged and convicted of DWI and are interested in sealing this from your record, please fill out the below form and a staff member will get back to you as soon as possible.
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