Sealing DWI Records
For several years, people convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas were unable to seal or expunge their arrests from their criminal records. On June 15, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3016 (HB 3016), also known as the “Second Chances Bill.” The legislation allowing first-time offenders charged with certain nonviolent misdemeanors to obtain an order of nondisclosure (seal their criminal records) took effect on September 1, 2017.
HB 3016 applies retroactively, meaning Texans can attempt to seal DWI records for offenses committed before, on, or after the September 1 effective date. HB 3016 provided a much-needed chance at a clean slate for countless people arrested for first drunk driving offenses, but individuals hoping to have their records sealed also must satisfy other requirements in order to be eligible for an order of nondisclosure.
Expunction vs. Order of Nondisclosure in Texas
Sealing and expunging are terms that some people use interchangeably, but they each have very distinct meanings. Both procedures help remove criminal records from public view, but there are significant differences concerning eligibility as well as what happens with the actual criminal record.
When a person obtains an order of nondisclosure (or seals his or her criminal record), the record of the criminal offense is hidden from public view and cannot be disclosed by law enforcement agencies. Certain enumerated entities, however, will still be able to access to the record. Individuals must have successfully completed deferred adjudication in order to apply for orders of nondisclosure.
When a criminal record is expunged, all records of the arrest and prosecution are actually destroyed. Unlike sealing a criminal record and thus making it inaccessible to the public, expunging a criminal record essentially makes it as though the record never existed and any person who has his or her record expunged can legally deny that the arrest ever occurred. Expunction is only available to people who were never convicted of the crime they were arrested for, had their convictions overturned, or were pardoned after being convicted.
DWI Record Sealing Eligibility in Bexar County
HB 3016 created Texas Government Code § 411.0731, which establishes the procedure for community supervision following conviction and certain DWI convictions. Under Texas Government Code § 411.0731(a), this section only applies to people placed on community supervision under Chapter 42A of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure:
- following a conviction of an offense under Texas Penal Code § 49.04 (DWI), other than an offense punishable under Texas Penal Code § 49.04(d) (DWI involving blood alcohol concentration [BAC] of 0.15 or more); and
- under a provision of Chapter 42A of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, other than Subchapter C, including a provision that requires the person to serve a term of confinement as a condition of community supervision; or another provision that authorizes placing a person on community supervision after the person has served part of a term of confinement imposed for the offense.
Texas Government Code § 411.0731(b) establishes that an individual whose community supervision was not revoked and who completed the period of community supervision—including any term of confinement imposed and payment of all fines, costs, and restitution imposed—can petition the court that placed the person on community supervision for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information under this section if the person:
- satisfies the requirements of Texas Government Code § 411.0731 and Texas Government Code § 411.074 (the section of the Texas Government Code prohibiting people who were convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for certain enumerated violent, sexual, or other enumerated crimes from petitioning for an order of nondisclosure); and
- has never been previously convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for another offense other than a traffic offense that is punishable by fine only.
Under Texas Government Code § 411.0731(e), a court cannot issue an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information if the commission of the offense for which the order is sought resulted in a motor vehicle accident involving another person, including a passenger in a motor vehicle operated by the person seeking the order of nondisclosure. An individual can petition the court that placed him or her on community supervision for an order of nondisclosure only on or after:
- Two years after the date of completion of the community supervision, if the person successfully complied with a condition of community supervision that, for a period of not less than six months, restricted the person’s operation of a motor vehicle to a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device (IID); or
- Five years after the date of completion of the community supervision, if the court that placed the person on community supervision did not order the person to comply with a condition of community supervision that restricted the person’s operation of a motor vehicle to a motor vehicle equipped with an IID.
San Antonio Sealing DWI Records Defense Attorney
Are you hoping to obtain an order of nondisclosure for your DWI arrest? Sealing a criminal record is an incredibly complex process, but The Parent Law Firm can help you no longer have to worry about being haunted by your past. If you are trying to seal the criminal record of your DWI arrest in Bexar County, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel.
Call 210-819-4111 right now to have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.