In today’s world, background checks are increasingly common. Employers and landlords routinely perform background searches on potential employees and tenants. Oftentimes, having a criminal record, even for a non-violent offense like a DWI, can make it difficult to find a job or a place to live.

Texas has recognized the problem this kind of stigmatization represents. On June 16th, 2017, Texas Governor, Greg Abbot, signed House Bill 3016 into law. The new law gives people who have been convicted of DWI the possibility of sealing that conviction with an order of non-disclosure.

How Does An Order Of Non-Disclosure Work?

When people typically talk of “sealing” a record, what they’re actually referring to is what is known as a non-disclosure. An order of non-disclosure will effectively hide a criminal conviction from the eyes of the general public. More importantly, a background check will not show a criminal conviction that is subject to an order of non-disclosure. The conviction will, however, still be able to be seen by the police, state, and federal authorities.

Prior to the passage of House Bill 3016, under Texas law a person who had committed certain non-violent misdemeanors could be placed on deferred adjudication community supervision, or probation, before being found guilty. If that person successfully completed the probation, the judge would dismiss the case and enter an order of non-disclosure so that the matter was “sealed” from the eyes of the public. However, the law did not allow for the non-disclosure of a DWI under any circumstances.

House Bill 3016, changed all of this. Effective September 1, 2017, a person convicted of a DWI has the opportunity, under certain circumstances, to petition the court for an order of non-disclosure. The bill also changes some of the waiting periods associated with an order of non-disclosure.

Specifically, the bill allows a person who is ineligible for an automatic order of non-disclosure because a judge found that such an order was not in the best interest of justice to petition the court to enter an order of non-disclosure. In such a case, if the misdemeanor involved was punishable only by a fine, the person may petition the court immediately upon the completion of their sentence. If the misdemeanor involved more punishment than a fine, the person must wait two years from the date of completing their sentence to petition the court for an order.

Orders Of Non-Disclosure and DWI

In order to be eligible to petition the court for non-disclosure of a DWI, certain conditions must be met. These conditions include:

  • This must be an individual’s first Driving While Intoxicated offense;
  • Their blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.15;
  • They have never been convicted of another crime or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision (minor traffic offenses excluded);
  • They have successfully served any jail time and completed any community supervision;
  • They have paid all fines, court costs and made any restitution that was a part of their sentence; and
  • The applicable waiting period for petitioning the court has elapsed.

The following waiting periods apply to petitions for non-disclosure involving DWI related offenses:

  • Two years from the successful completion of their sentence if the person was ordered to equip their vehicle with an ignition interlock device for a period of at least six months; or
  • Five years from the successful completion of their sentence if the court did not order that an ignition interlock device be installed.

It should be noted that an order of non-disclosure will be denied if the state presents evidence that establishes that the underlying DWI caused an accident that involved another person, including a passenger who was in the defendant’s vehicle.

A DWI is not subject to an order of non-disclosure if:

  • This was the second or third DWI related offense;
  • The individual’s blood alcohol content was in excess of 0.15;
  • The applicable waiting period has not expired; 2 years or 5 years
  • As stated, the underlying DWI involved an accident that included another person.

Crimes That Cannot Be Subject To An Order Of Non-Disclosure

Some alcohol related misdemeanors cannot be subject to an order of non-disclosure. These crimes include:

  • Selling alcohol to minors;
  • Allowing minors to possess or consume alcohol;
  • DWI with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher;
  • Flying while intoxicated; and
  • Boating while intoxicated.

Furthermore, other non-alcohol related criminal offenses are also not capable of being sealed with an order of non-disclosure. These offenses include:

  • Murder;
  • Aggravated kidnapping;
  • Abandoning or endangering a child;
  • An offense requiring sex offender registration; and
  • An offense involving family violence.

House Bill 3016 can allow you to seal the record of your DWI so that it becomes easier to obtain employment, housing and move forward with your life. Contact RJ Harber for a free, confidential consultation at 214-389-1189, or online here.