The legislature has recently amended the Texas Government Code to permit the sealing, under certain conditions, of your criminal record for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest and conviction with an order of nondisclosure — Texas put this law into effect September 1, 2017.
An order of nondisclosure (by Texas law) is sent by the court clerk to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), who then send a copy of the order to all private entities that contract with the DPS to purchase criminal history information collected from every court, jail, and prison in the state.
Those private contractors must then delete or destroy all entries in their databases relating to the person and offense contained in the nondisclosure order.
If you received probation as the disposition of your case, you can qualify for nondisclosure if you meet the following conditions:
After notice and an opportunity to be heard, if the judge makes a finding that the applicant is entitled to the relief sought and that the order of nondisclosure is in the best interest of justice, the judge shall grant the petition and sign the order of nondisclosure.
An Order of Nondisclosure With Jail Time or Failed Probation
You may still qualify for relief under the new statute if you meet all of the above requirements, but the “waiting period” is increased to 3 years with the Ignition Interlock Device installed for 6 months.
If no Interlock device was installed for 6 months, the “waiting period” is 5 years from the completion of your jail sentence or term of probation before you can file your petition for nondisclosure.
The new statute is retroactive — it doesn’t matter when your DWI conviction occurred, you may apply for nondisclosure under Texas law if you meet all of the applicable requirements of the amended statute.
If the Judge grants your petition for nondisclosure, you may deny that you have ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of the offense described in the court order, with the following exceptions:
Although the order of nondisclosure seals the record of your DWI arrest, charge, and conviction from public view (except as noted above), there are some important exceptions, such as the following:
In these cases, the appropriate agency or court gets to see the information about the conviction that is the subject of the nondisclosure order.
Also, you need to be aware that this order of nondisclosure does not apply to the federal government, any mugshot websites, any internet search engines, or any newspaper or private entity which already has information about your arrest, charge, or conviction, unless that private entity has a contract with DPS to purchase criminal history data.
Sealing your DWI criminal record can be beneficial; however, it can also be complicated, especially with all its exceptions, conditions, and caveats.
Let us help you understand how this new law applies to your case.
If you would like to find out if you qualify for an order of nondisclosure under Texas law for a past DWI conviction, please contact the law firm of Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant at (940)387-3518, or contact us here.