DWI Expunction Laws in Fort Worth

Up until September 1st of 2017, it was impossible to do an expunction or seal the record of a DWI conviction. If a person was found guilty of DWI, they would never be able to expunge or seal it from their record, regardless of whether or not they were given probation. Sealing is also called a non-disclosure. In addition, DWI has always been excluded from the deferred adjudication law in Texas, so DWI is not an offense for which deferred adjudication is available. On September 1st of 2017, a new law went into effect that allows for DWI convictions to be sealed from a person’s record through a motion for non-disclosure under certain circumstances.

There are several technical requirements that determine whether or not a person is eligible to seal the DWI conviction from their record, so it’s important to have expert attorneys who know exactly how to properly draft the motion, and who know exactly how the technical requirements work in order to get the non-disclosure granted. This is a law that also allows for convictions from the past to be sealed from a person’s record under certain circumstances. The first requirement is that it is a first-time DWI conviction. The second requirement is that the person received probation and successfully completed at least a 12-month probation period. The third requirement is that there was no accident involved. The fourth requirement is that the alcohol concentration was not over 0.15. Lastly, there must be a waiting period, which is normally five years from the successful completion of the probation. However, if the person had an interlock device for at least six months as a requirement of the probation, then the waiting period is only two years.

Requirements of a DWI Record Expunction

Now, even with all of these requirements apparently being met, it’s still a tricky situation to properly apply those requirements and technical eligibility rules in any particular case. Once the order of non-disclosure is granted, then the conviction is sealed, which means that it is no longer available to the public. That means that it doesn’t show up on public background checks and the person can legally say that it never happened. It’s a tremendous benefit for people, especially when searching for jobs.

Now, a distinction between this and an expunction is that the record of the conviction is maintained by law enforcement. This means that law enforcement agencies and the government still has the record of the conviction. If the person gets in trouble again, then the sealed DWI conviction can still be used against them. It also means that if the person is doing something that requires the government to do a background check on them, it will show up. If a person is applying for a handgun license or a job with a governmental agency such as the FBI or NSA, then the conviction can still show up. It may also be maintained and disclosed if a person is applying for certain privileges, such as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pre-clearance, or the Global Entry Program. So, it’s not as good as an expunction, but it is a tremendous benefit that allows a person to essentially clear their record and avoid disclosing a prior DWI conviction to the public.

First Time DWI Offenders

Only first time DWI offenders can have their records sealed.

At What Point Can I Apply For A DWI Non-Disclosure In Texas?

There is a waiting period of at least two years from the successful completion of the probation. It is a two-year waiting period if the person had an interlock as a condition of the probation for at least six months. If they didn’t have an interlock as a condition for at least six months, then the waiting period is five years. It is important that attorneys take all of these things into consideration when they’re resolving a DWI case. We like to fight DWI cases, and we fight as many of them as possible. This allows us to get good results and/or win cases at trial.

An interesting thing about this is that even if you fight the case and lose, you still have the non-disclosure option available to you (assuming that you meet all of the requirements). I’m afraid that many attorneys are just going to advise all of these first-time DWI offenders that they need to plead guilty and take the deal in order to have the conviction sealed from their record. That’s not necessarily the best way to handle these cases. We think that we should still fight these cases, and we aim to have them either completely dismissed or return not guilty verdicts. If we’re going through a trial and we win, then our client is eligible for expunction. If we get the case dismissed, then our client is eligible for expunction. If we go through a trial and we don’t win, our client is still eligible for the non-disclosure option. So, we don’t think that it’s good advice to tell clients to just plead guilty and waive their right at a trial. We think it’s better to go ahead and fight for a better result, such as a dismissal or a not guilty verdict. If we can do that, then expunction becomes an option.


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