New Texas Statute Allows Individuals to Seal First DWI Conviction

Criminal LawA criminal conviction can stay with you for years and wreak havoc on many areas of your life. You can face challenges getting a good job, finding an apartment, securing money for advanced education or even trying to get a loan. It has long been possible in Texas, under the right circumstances, to have a criminal record sealed, so that it would not be publicly available. However, until recently, DWI convictions were not eligible to be sealed. This law has now been changed.

Sealing a First-Time DWI Conviction

On June 15, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3016, allowing persons convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors, including driving while intoxicated (DWI) to ask the court to issue an order of nondisclosure of the conviction. An order of nondisclosure means that the criminal record will be “sealed,” or unavailable to the general public. Accordingly, it will be permissible for the person whose record is sealed to publicly deny that such a record exists. The record will, though, still be available to be reviewed by law enforcement officers, as well as certain government employers.

Under the new law, which goes into effect on September 1, 2017, anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor punishable only by a fine will be able to immediately petition the court for an order of nondisclosure. If the misdemeanor was punishable by any means other than a fine, the person seeking to have the record sealed must wait until two years after completion of any sentence served for the offense to petition for a nondisclosure order.

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