Texas legislators passed HB 3016 earlier this year, a law that now allows those convicted of a first-time DWI offense with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.15 to petition the court for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history relating to the DWI offense. The commonly referred to term of “sealing” a record, or making the criminal offense private from the view of the general public, is known as “nondisclosure” in Texas. There are certain requirements, however, that must be met in order to be eligible for this under current Texas law. Below is general information about HB 3016.
Under the new law, a person may petition the court to have a DWI sealed by way of a nondisclosure order only if her or she has:
- Never been convicted of or placed on deferred probation (commonly referred to as adjudication community supervision) for another offense that is not a traffic offense punishable only by a fine;
- Paid all costs, fines, and restitution imposed;
- Exhausted the waiting period of two years if the person has had at least six months of driving restricted to a vehicle with an interlock device as part of sentencing, or five years if an interlock device was not part of sentencing.
Moreover, a nondisclosure order will not be issued if evidence is presented showing the underlying offense for which the order is sought resulted in a car accident involving another (this includes a defendant’s passenger).
When to Petition
Texas law mandates the individual wait until the second anniversary of the date of completion of his or her sentence if he or she:
- Complied with all conditions of the sentencing for at least six months; and
- Was restricted to operating a vehicle with an interlock device for at least six months.
If the court did not impose the conditions mentioned above, the individual must wait until the fifth anniversary of the date of completion of the sentence. Of note, having a first-time DWI offense sealed by a nondisclosure order will not prevent subsequent DWI charges.
There are several factors that disqualify a person seeking to seal a Texas DWI with a nondisclosure order. An individual’s DWI record will not be sealed if it was the second or third offense, the offense involved a BAC greater than 0.15, the DWI involved an accident and injury to any person, and if the offense was within the last two (if there was an interlock device) or five years (if there was not an interlock device).
There are also offenses that are specifically excluded under Texas law from consideration of a nondisclosure order. These include:
- Possession and/or consumption of or selling alcohol to minors;
- Driving while intoxicated with a BAC of 0.15 or higher;
- Flying while intoxicated;
- Boating while intoxicated; or
- Operating an amusement park ride while intoxicated.
Also, any conviction relating to engaging in organized criminal activity does not qualify for nondisclosure.
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(image courtesy of Feifei Peng)