DWI Record Seal

Facing a DWI charge can significantly impact your life, affecting everything from job opportunities to personal relationships. In Texas, the repercussions of a DWI conviction can linger long after you’ve served your sentence, appearing on background checks and potentially closing doors to future opportunities. However, recent changes in Texas law provide a way to seal DWI records through an order of nondisclosure, offering a “second chance” to those eligible.

Understanding DWI Record Sealing

Under Texas law, DWI convictions are permanent on your criminal record. Previously, there was no provision for sealing DWI offenses, leaving many Texans struggling with the long-term consequences of a single mistake. However, introducing a new law in September 2017 changed this, allowing individuals to petition for nondisclosure of their DWI records under specific conditions.

What is an Order of Nondisclosure?

An order of nondisclosure is a legal document issued by a court that restricts public access to certain criminal records. For DWIs, this order means that your arrest and conviction will not be visible to the general public, including employers or landlords conducting background checks.

  • Eligibility Requirements: To qualify, your DWI must not have involved a BAC of 0.15 or higher, you must have completed all sentence terms, including probation or jail time, paid all fines, and not committed other offenses during and after your sentence period. You must also have no prior convictions or deferred probation sentences for any other offense besides a traffic ticket.
  • Application Process: You need to file a petition in the court where your case was handled, providing evidence that supports your eligibility for nondisclosure.

Benefits of DWI Record Sealing

Sealing your DWI record can remove many barriers imposed by a criminal record. Here are some of the immediate benefits:

  • Employment Opportunities: Most employers conduct background checks. A sealed record means your DWI won’t be disclosed, increasing your chances of securing a job.
  • Loan Approvals: Financial institutions often deny loans to individuals with criminal records. Sealing your DWI improves your chances of securing financial assistance.
  • Housing Applications: Landlords who perform background checks will not see a sealed DWI, increasing your housing options.

How to Qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure

Qualifying for an order of nondisclosure requires meeting specific criteria outlined in the Texas Government Code § 411.074, 411.0726, 411.0731, and 411.0736:

  • First-Time Offenders: Only first-time DWI offenders are eligible.
  • Low BAC: Your BAC must have been below 0.15.
  • Completion of Sentencing Requirements: All penalties, including confinement and fines, must be fully served and paid.
  • Clean Post-Offense Record: Since completing your DWI sentence, there are no additional convictions or deferred adjudications, except for minor traffic offenses.
  • No Probation Revocation: If your probation is revoked by the Court due to alleged probation violations, you may not be eligible for nondisclosure.
  • No Prior Record: You do not have any prior convictions or deferred adjudication sentences for any other offenses other than a traffic ticket.

Time Requirements for Filing a Petition

The timing of your petition depends on the specifics of your sentence:

  • Probation With Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Two years after completing probation, including at least six months with an IID.
  • Jail Time with Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Three years after completing your sentence, including at least six months with an IID.
  • Without IID: Five years after completing your sentence if no IID was required.

Reasons for Denial of Nondisclosure

Certain conditions can lead to the denial of a nondisclosure order, particularly related to the nature of the offense and your criminal history. Violent crimes, repeat DWI offenses or any involvement in serious crimes such as assault or family violence can disqualify you from sealing your record.

Sealed vs. Expunged: Understanding the Difference

It’s crucial to understand that sealed records are not deleted. Sealing hides your record from public view, but certain government agencies and law enforcement can still access it. If pertinent, sealed records may also be considered in subsequent criminal proceedings or in cases involving family law.

How We Can Help

At Barbieri Law Firm, P.C., we understand the profound impact a DWI can have on your life. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to helping clients navigate the complexities of sealing DWI records. We offer detailed consultations to review your case, assess your eligibility, and guide you through the petition process.

If you’re ready to move forward and seek nondisclosure for your DWI record, contact Barbieri Law Firm, P.C. today at 972-424-1902 or online. Our knowledgeable team is here to help you restore your reputation and open new doors for your future. Don’t let a past mistake define your life; reach out to us online or by phone to schedule your consultation and take the first step towards a clearer future.