New Texas Law Gives First-Time DWI Offenders a "Second Chance"

Having a criminal record affects several areas of a person’s everyday life, from employment to housing to other activities that require a background search. Even when a criminal offense is non-violent and unintended, negative consequences will follow a conviction. Earlier this year, Texas legislators recognized the stigma associated with criminal convictions and passed the bipartisan HB 3016 that expands the opportunity to seal a criminal conviction with an order of nondisclosure. Below is information about the new law, and the requirements that must be met in order to qualify.

HB 3016 and Nondisclosure Orders

Texas law refers to the commonly known term of “sealing” a criminal record as nondisclosure. An order of nondisclosure seals, or keeps private, a criminal record from the general public. This order also allows a person who has had his or her record sealed to deny the existence of the criminal offense in most instances. Law enforcement, state and federal authorities, and employers in government fields will still be able to see the criminal record.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 3016, which amends and expands the Texas Government Code to allow a person who has been convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors, including DWIs, to petition a court, under certain circumstances, for an order of nondisclosure and alter some waiting periods.

The law goes into effect September of 2017 and will be applied retroactively. The bill also permits a person to petition the court for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history if the person was ineligible to receive an automatic order. This is allowed when the ineligibility was based solely on the judge’s affirmative finding that the automatic order was not in the best interest of justice. Additionally, a person may petition the court for an order of nondisclosure immediately upon the date of completion of his or her sentence if the misdemeanor was only punishable by a monetary fine. If the misdemeanor was punishable in other ways beyond a fine, the person must wait until the second anniversary of the date of completing his or her sentence before petitioning the court.

Before HB 3016 passed, Texas Government Code allowed for some second chance considerations of nondisclosure under limited circumstances, and DWI offenses were not one of them.

Under the new law, a person is prohibited from having a DWI record sealed if it was a second or third offense, the incident involved a finding of blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.15, the offense involved an accident and an injury to another, or the offense was within the last two years (or five years if there was no interlock requirement).

Texas DWI Trial Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been charged with a Texas DWI, know that you may be able to seal your record by obtaining an order of nondisclosure under the new law if you are a first-time offender. The knowledgeable and aggressive attorneys at the Wilder DWI Defense Firm will fight for you every step of the way. Click here today to schedule your initial, free case evaluation.

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