When you are convicted of a driving while intoxicated offense (DWI) offense in Tarrant County, you face many additional repercussions that are not directly associated with the criminal penalties of a DWI conviction. Your criminal record for a DWI can result in an inability to pursue certain professional occupations, public embarrassment, and the loss of the ability to own or possess a handgun.
People who have DWI convictions often want to pursue DWI record expunction (or expungement) to get their criminal records sealed, but people will not be eligible for expunctions when they were convicted of or pleaded guilty to DWI offenses. A person is only eligible if they receive obstruction of a passageway or deferred adjudication, and deferred adjudication has not been offered for DWI cases since 1983.
DWI Expunction Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
If you were arrested for a DWI, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (817) 422-5350 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and surrounding areas of Tarrant County, TX area. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can work to ensure that you are able to seal your criminal record if you were granted deferred adjudication.
Texas DWI Expunction Laws
The ability to expunge a DWI record will not be available to every person because expunction or record sealing is not possible following a DWI conviction. While it is an often complicated process, the benefits of expunging or sealing a DWI record will often be worth the trouble.
Every DWI case is unique, and the facts and disposition of a case can establish whether an expunction or non-disclosure will be legally possible. Expunction is essentially the legal erasure of a criminal record, and Texas state law allows for expunction of a criminal record in only certain situations under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.01.
This statute states that an individual who has been placed under a custodial or noncustodial arrest for the alleged commission of either a felony or misdemeanor offense will be entitled to have all their records and files relating to an expunged arrest if:
- They are tried for the offense they were arrested for and are acquitted by a trial court, or convicted and subsequently pardoned or otherwise granted relief on the basis of actual innocence with respect to the alleged offense when the applicable pardon or court order clearly indicates that the pardon or order was rendered or granted on the basis of a person’s actual innocence.
- They were released, the charge did result in a final conviction, is no longer pending, and there was no community supervision ordered by the court for the offense, unless the offense was a Class C misdemeanor, assuming that regardless of whether a statute of limitations exists for the alleged offense and whether a limitations period for the alleged offense has expired, an indictment or information charging the alleged offender with the commission of a misdemeanor offense based on their arrest or charging them with the commission of any felony arising out of the same offense for which the person was arrested is not presented against the alleged offender at any time following the arrest, and a minimum of 180 days have elapsed from the date of arrest if the arrest for which the expunction is sought was for an offense punishable as a Class C misdemeanor and there was no felony charge arising out of the same alleged offense for which the alleged offender was arrested; at least one year has elapsed from the date of an arrest if an arrest for which expunction is sought was for an offense punishable as a Class B or A misdemeanor and there was no felony charge arising out of the same alleged offense for which the alleged offender was arrested; at least three years have elapsed from the date of an arrest if the arrest for which an expunction is sought was for a crime punishable as a felony or if there was a felony charge arising out of the same alleged offense for which the alleged offender was arrested; or an attorney representing the state certifies that applicable arrest records and files will not be necessary for use in any criminal investigation or prosecution, including the investigation or prosecution of another individual; or if presented at any time after the arrest, was dismissed or quashed, and a court finds that an indictment or information has been quashed or dismissed because the alleged offender completed a veterans treatment court program; the alleged offender completed a mental health court program; the alleged offender completed a pretrial intervention program other than a veterans treatment court program or a mental health court program; the presentment was made by mistake, false information, or other similar reason indicating absence of probable cause at the time of a dismissal to believe the alleged offender committed the offense; or an indictment or information was actually void; or
- The prosecution of the alleged offender for the alleged offense for which they were arrested is no longer possible because the applicable limitations period has expired.
If you have been convicted of a DWI in Texas and your charges did not lead to an acquittal, you will not be able to request an expunction, but you could be able to seek a non-disclosure of your criminal record, which is the equivalent of sealing your DWI record. Under the law, a person could be eligible for a DWI expunction if they receive deferred adjudication from a court, but deferred adjudication has again not been offered in Texas for over three decades.
When a DWI charge is reduced to an “obstruction of a passageway” offense, it could be eligible for expunction.
Benefits of DWI Expunction
Following a DWI expunction, a person can deny that any arrest ever happened. Even when they are questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.03 states that an individual whose record has been expunged is not legally obligated to provide details of a DWI arrest but can say that the matter was expunged, without any other explanation.
Criminal records are frequently disclosed on many job applications, educational applications, and applications for certain types of governmental assistance, such as requests for food stamps or public housing. When a criminal record is expunged, a person can legally withhold that information.
DWI Expunction Process in Texas
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.02 actually lists steps that need to be taken to expunge a criminal record in Texas. The law requires a court to enter an order for expunction for every eligible person requesting an expunction within 30 days of acquittal.
An individual seeking expunction has to submit the following information to a court in their petition, which has to include:
- Petitioner’s verifying information, including their full name, date of birth, sex, race, social security number, driver’s license number, and address at the time of their arrest
- Offense charged against the petitioner
- Date the offense charged against a petitioner was allegedly committed
- Date the petitioner was arrested
- Name of county or municipality where petitioner was arrested
- Name of agency that arrested the petitioner
- Case number and court of offense, and
- Every law enforcement agency that could have information related to the criminal record or files
A prosecutor and judge review a petition for expunction, but upon receipt of an order granting expunction, every official, agency, or other governmental entity named in an order has to obliterate every portion of the record or file that could identify the petitioner. Texas Government Code § 411.0851 establishes that private entities also need to comply with orders of expunction or non-disclosure.
Non-Disclosure or Sealing a Texas DWI Record
Sealing DWI records is much more common in Texas than expunctions. A person sentenced to deferred adjudication or community supervision who subsequently receives a discharge and dismissal can be eligible to file a petition for non-disclosure and get their criminal record sealed.
A person charged with misdemeanor DWI can petition a court for an order of non-disclosure once an offense is discharged and dismissed. A person charged with felony DWI can petition a court for an order of non-disclosure five years after the same offense is discharged and dismissed.
Just like with expunction, once a DWI record is sealed, a person will not be required to disclose anything about their DWI incident in any application for employment, education, or licensing.
Even after a criminal record is sealed, certain non-criminal justice agencies or entities are nevertheless entitled to receive information pertaining to criminal records from a criminal justice agency. According to Texas Government Code § 411.0765, these agencies or entities may be permitted to receive information about sealed criminal records:
- Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
- Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
- The Department of Information Resources
- Texas Department of Insurance
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
- Texas Department of State Health Services, local mental health service, local intellectual, and developmental disability authority, or a community center providing services to people with mental illness or intellectual or developmental disabilities
- Texas Board of Nursing
- Texas Education Agency
- Texas Juvenile Justice Department
- Texas Juvenile Probation Commission
- Texas Medical Board
- Texas Private Security Board
- Texas School for the Deaf
- Texas State Board of Pharmacy
- Texas State Board of Public Accountancy
- State Bar of Texas
- Board for Educator Certification
- Board of Law Examiners
- The Judicial Branch Certification Commission
- The Teacher Retirement System of Texas
- The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- Guardianship Certification Board
- Health and Human Services Commission
- The securities commissioner, banking commissioner, savings and mortgage lending commissioner, consumer credit commissioner, or credit union commissioner
- A bank, savings and loan association, credit union, or mortgage banker, a subsidiary or affiliate of those entities, or any other financial institution regulated by a state regulatory entity or by a corresponding federal regulatory entity
- A county clerk’s office related to a proceeding for the appointment of a guardian
- A district court regarding a petition for a name change
- A public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district, or other facility defined in § 250.001 of the Texas Health and Safety Code
- A municipal or volunteer fire department
- A safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations
- A school district, charter school, private school, regional education service center, commercial transportation company, or education shared-service arrangement
- An employer that has a facility that handles or has the capability of handling, transporting, storing, processing, manufacturing, or controlling hazardous, explosive, combustible or flammable materials (under certain circumstances)
Tarrant County DWI Expunction Resources
Expunctions in Texas — View this guide prepared and distributed by the Texas Young Lawyers Association and the State Bar of Texas. It discusses expunctions after acquittal, expunctions for cases never filed, and expunctions on prosecuting attorney’s recommendations. Also learn more about juvenile offenses, expunctions of records by close relatives, and petitions for expunctions of records.
Advanced expunction law — Visit this Texas District & County Attorneys Association webpage discussing expunctions. The page answers questions about discretionary expunctions and multiple charges. You can also learn more about findings of not guilty by reasons of insanity, pretrial diversions, and judicial clemency.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for DWI Expunction | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you were arrested for a DWI in Fort Worth or a surrounding area of Tarrant County and need to get your criminal record expunged, get legal help. Expunction is a daunting and difficult task for the average person to handle on their own.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can be by your side throughout the expunction process. You can call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to set up a free consultation so we can review your case and outline your legal options.