First-Time DWI Offenders in Texas May Now Be Eligible for Sealing Their Record

Beyond the prison time, fines, rehabilitation, community service, and other penalties that come with a DWI conviction in the state of Texas, there also comes a lifelong criminal record. This is something that lasts when all the other punishments are long over. And it’s the type of thing that can interfere with your ability to find a job or a place to live. However, a recent change to Texas state law is giving those with a single DWI offense a chance to seal that record so they don’t have to be plagued by one mistake for the rest of their life.

Starting in September 1, 2017, Texas HB 3016 is going into effect which expands the eligible offenses for which Texas citizens can petition for their criminal record to be sealed. This is the first time that DWI offenses will be eligible, so you likely have questions about how this will work. The law is retroactive and applies to those with an offense in the past. Keep reading to learn more.

Here’s How HB 3016 Actually Works

This new piece of legislation essentially expands what an order of nondisclosure can be petitioned for. This type of order, if you are not familiar with it, seals your criminal offenses from being available in background searches by employers and landlords. It also frees you from the obligation of having to reveal this conviction when filling out forms asking about your criminal history. This is great news for those in Texas with a single DWI. However, it’s power is limited. Keep in mind your conviction will not be sealed from:

  • Any law enforcement personnel who look up your criminal record
  • Any employer who is running a background check for a government employee position.

One important stipulation within HB 3016 is that your BAC must have been 0.15 or lower or your conviction is not eligible for sealing.

The Criteria for Sealing Your DWI Conviction under Texas HB 3016

You must meet all of the following criteria in order to be eligible to petition for your DWI conviction to be sealed under HB 3016:

  • Your BAC must have been 0.15 or lower
  • You must have completed all court mandated periods of service and confinement as well as paid all fines, costs, and restitution fees.
  • The DWI in question cannot have resulted in any kind of vehicular accident or the conviction will be ineligible.
  • You have no other convictions of any kind on your record. The only exception here is traffic violations that do NOT involve drugs or alcohol.
  • You have waited the required waiting period, which is either:
    • 2 years if your sentencing included at least 6 months of an ignition restriction device
    • 5 years if you did not complete at least 6 months of having a court-ordered ignition interlock device installed

Keep in mind that if the prosecution in your case was able to prove that your DWI resulted in an accident, the conviction is not eligible to be sealed either.

The Waiting Period for Sealing a DWI under Texas HB 3016

One slightly confusing part of HB 3016 is the waiting period requirement. You will either have to wait 2 or 5 years in order to petition for your DWI to be sealed. For those who:

  • Complied with all of their sentencing requirements and conditions for a period of at least six months AND
  • Had an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for a period of at least six months as part of their sentencing

The wait period is two years. For all others, the wait period ends on the fifth anniversary of the date they completed their original sentencing requirements.