For those with only one minor offense on their records, a new Texas law will go a long way to help them clear their records and prevent a lot of the negative repercussions of a criminal conviction. The law will extend to most minor offenses, including a first time DWI, but only under certain circumstances. It is expected to become a part of the law when the bill reaches the Governor’s desk.
This new law is another in a string of criminal justice reforms that are happening across the country. Many of the reforms are in response to what has been very strict criminal laws that over penalize criminal convictions. For example, if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor like DWI, he or she will pay a penalty, and likely serve some time in jail. Probably a fair outcome, but the penalty does not end there.
When a person carries a criminal conviction on his or her record, it follows that person in every aspect of life. For every job application, apartment inquiry, and other official document, he or she will typically have to disclose the conviction. Thus, the crime is not paid for at the punishment phase of a conviction, but follows the person forever. This law seeks to correct that.
The law is specifically tailored to minor misdemeanor infractions, including DWI, but DWIs will be treated somewhat differently under the reform. In order to qualify for the benefits of the new law, the following must apply to a first-time DWI offender:
- No previous DWI convictions;
- A blood alcohol content level below 0.14;
- Pay in full court fines;
- No one was struck as a result of the DWI;
- The driver completes a six-month interlock ignition term, or waits five years.
As long as all of those are completed, a first-time DWI offender can qualify.
The law itself would do a lot to help someone move on from a prior conviction. Once convicted of low level misdemeanor, a person can apply to have it removed from public view and disclosure after applying for the benefit. To qualify, a person must pay all the fines associated with the conviction and serve any sentence handed down, including probation. Once approved, it would seal a person’s criminal record from public view, and greatly enhance a person’s ability to move on from a criminal conviction.
Reforms like these are becoming more and more popular across the country in part because of the recognition that our criminal justice system is often flawed. Too often it punishes the wrong kinds of behaviors, and does not allow for redemption or actual reform, which allows a person to move on from a conviction. That is one of the many reasons why it is so important to hire the right legal team if you are accused of DWI.
At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm, our name says it all. We defend those accused of DWI because we know what kind of defense they deserve, and what needs to be done to give the best defense possible. If you are accused of DWI, contact us today.
(image courtesy of Samuel Zeller)