If you are facing a DWI charge, you may wonder what the long-term ramifications of a convicition are. One of the biggest questions is whether or not it will be possible to expunge a potential conviction or get it reduced to a lesser offense.
If you’ve recently been convicted of drunk driving in Texas, you should know that there is no such thing as expunging a DWI conviction here. However, certain charges may qualify to be sealed under the Texas Second Chance Law.
The best way to understand your case is to consult with an experienced lawyer who has handled similar ones in the past. The answer to the question, can a DWI be expunged in Texas is technically no, but there are still a lot of things an attorney can do for you.
Can a DWI Be Sealed Under the Texas Second Chance Law?
The answer is, sometimes. This law’s intent is to provide low-level and first-time offenders who didn’t commit a violent crime an opportunity to apply for jobs with a clean record. In order to understand how it works, let’s take a look at an example.
Say you were arrested for DWI and you were given probation with the condition that you complete an alcohol treatment program. If you successfully complete your treatment program, your record may qualify to be sealed from public view.
However, if you fail to complete treatment or break any other rules of your probation, the court can still hold you accountable for what happened.
The Second Chance Law does allow you to get your records sealed or expunged if you complete no less than six months of driving sober that’s backed up with proof from an IID (ignition interlock device) and you’ve waited two years after your probation is complete before asking for the non-disclosure. Other criteria includes:
- It’s your first DWI offense.
- You haven prior felonies or violent misdemeanors in your past.
- You’ve completed all terms of your sentence, including any restitution orders or fines.
- The DWI is a misdemeanor and not a felony DWI.
- You’ve had no convictions in the past five years after the date your case was closed.
- Nobody was seriously hurt because of the drunk driving incident.
- Your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was less than .15%.
Once you’ve figured out if you’re eligible for the program, you should get a lawyer to help you petition the court. The application process is complex, and you don’t want to make any mistakes when you’re trying to clear your name!
The Process of Getting Records Sealed or Expunged in Texas
Your attorney will interview you and then complete the application form, affidavit, and get a certified copy of your conviction record from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Once complete, the entire packet will be submitted to the district clerk’s office.
Just remember, if you’re applying for expungement because you were convicted of more than one offense, your lawyer will need to submit an application packet for each offense separately.
In addition to submitting this information, it’s highly recommended that you also include documentation relating to your case that your lawyer thinks might help support your application. Examples include recommendation letters from:
- Employers or professors
- Family members
- Community organizations like churches or schools
- Other people who may be able to attest to your character
Getting Your Record Expunged in Texas When the Offense Was Years Ago
What if you were convicted of a DWI before the Texas Second Chance Law was passed? Is the law retroactive? The answer is yes, it is. The law is retroactive and can be applied to anyone who was convicted of a DWI prior to January 1, 2017. However, there are certain requirements that must be met.
The first requirement is that you were arrested before January 1, 2017. If you were arrested after January 1, 2017, then the law will not apply to your case.
The second requirement is that you have not been convicted of any other offenses since your arrest date. If you have been convicted of another offense, then the law will not apply to your case, either.
Find Out if Your DWI Can Be Expunged
This all may sound complicated, and it is. Fortunately, we’re here to help. There’s no need to let a low-level DWI offense affect your job and housing prospects. The lawyers at Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC can check if you’re eligible to have your record cleared for good. Fill out our online form or reach out by phone at 817-334-7900.