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Expunging DWI Records

If you’ve been accused of driving while impaired the consequences go beyond the penalties listed in Texas law. DWI allegations can be extremely stressful for your personal and professional life, even if your charges are ultimately reduced, discharged, or dismissed. 

Certain professions use public records to look up the criminal history of their employees, resulting in issues with your current occupation. It’s possible that your current employer may discover DWI charges, even if dismissed; it could affect your career. Additionally, DWI charges could affect your ability to find a job in the future. 

Expunging or sealing a criminal record may be the answer for you. Once a person’s criminal record has been expunged, he or she will no longer have their charges publicized. They can also deny the occurrence of the arrest or the expunction order. The expunction process can be difficult, but the final result is worth it. If you or someone you know has been accused of a DWI, it’s vital that you contact trusted legal representation to assess your expunction options 

Houston Attorney for DWI Expunction in Texas

Having a criminal record can be a death sentence for certain careers. If you’ve been formally charged with a DWI, it’s important you understand the expungement process. A skilled attorney can help you not only reduce or dismiss your DWI charges but may also be able to erase any trace of those charges in public records. 

Matthew Horak is an accomplished DWI attorney whose passionate about criminal defense. He is knowledgeable in all areas of Texas laws and will work with you through the expunction process. Find not just a lawyer but a legal partner with Matthew Horak.

Horak Law practices law at the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law and surrounding counties such as Fort Bend County, Liberty County, Montgomery County, and Brazoria County.

Call today at (713) 225-8000 and schedule a free consultation now. 

Overview of Expunging DWI Records in Texas

Can I Get a DWI Off My Record in Texas?

Texas offers legal options for those who wish to wipe DWI charges off their record. However, expungement is only allowed in certain situations listed under Texas Criminal Code § 55.01. Any person convicted of a DWI can’t get their record expunged unless they have their charges acquitted in an appeals court.

Some DWI scenarios that are eligible for expunction include:

  • The alleged offender was arrested for the DWI, but was later acquitted;
  • The alleged offender was convicted of a DWI but was later pardoned;
  • The alleged offender was arrested for a DWI, released, and was never charged;
  • The alleged offender was arrested and charged with a DWI, but was released, and the charges never lead to any conviction or community supervision;
  • The alleged offender had their charges reduced and ultimately dismissed; and
  • The alleged offender was charged and convicted of the DWI but had their charges acquitted by the court of criminal appeals. 

Understand that if you plead guilty or are convicted for a DWI, you cannot pursue the expungement process. Those who have had deferred adjudication may be able to obtain and Order of Non-Disclosure to seal their records instead of expungement. 

Expunction Procedures in Houston, Texas

Expunction, if possible, is usually the best option for those with DWI charges. Any person who wishes to have their DWI records expunged must follow the procedures set forth in Texas Criminal Code Procedures § 55.02. A person who wishes to pursue an expunction is called a petitioner. Petitioners must request a formal expunction within 30 days of the DWI acquittal. 

Petitioners must include all of the following information if they wish to file a request for an expunction: 

  • Verifying information such as name, race, sex, date of birth, driver’s license number, social security number, and the petitioner’s address at the time of the arrest;
  • The details of the DWI charged against the portioner;
  • The date of the petitioner’s arrest;
  • The date the charges were filed against the petitioner;
  • The county or municipality where the arrest occurred;
  • The name of the law enforcement agency that arrested the petitioner;
  • The case number and court for the DWI case; and
  • Any law enforcement agency that may have relevant information for the DWI charges.

Once the petition has been sent, the court will schedule for a formal hearing. Other applicable agencies and facilities to the case will be given notice of the hearing and may attend as respondents. The court will allow an opportunity for both respondents and the petitioner to argue for or against the expunction. However, if the petitioner meets all the necessary requirements he or she will have their DWI records expunged.

How Do I Get My DWI Record Sealed in Texas?

In some cases, expunction isn’t an option. If the DWI is severe or the alleged offender plead guilty or no contest, he or she isn’t able to have their records expunged. However, you may be able to obtain an Order for Nondisclosure. This means a person can have their DWI records sealed to a certain extent.

A Nondisclosure Order doesn’t completely destroy all record of the DWI, but it will limit the accessibility of the charges. The DWI charges will be removed from public records and certain private parties will no longer be able to obtain them. Unfortunately, the sealed records are still available to government agencies and in certain court actions.

A person must meet the following requirements to have their records sealed in Texas.

  • The alleged offender was placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for the DWI offense;
  • The alleged offender must have completed deferred adjudication and was issued an order of dismissal and discharge;
  • The alleged offender must have a qualifying criminal history;
  • The alleged offender must wait the designated time period listed in Texas law to seek an order of nondisclosure; and
  • The alleged offender must not have been convicted of any crimes during the designated time period listed under Texas law. 

If you meet all the qualifications, you can file a petition for an order of nondisclosure. You may be required to pay a fee alongside filing the petition. In some cases, the State may request a hearing for your petition. A judge can deny or allow any requested hearings, but it’s a rare occurrence for judges to permit hearings for those eligible for record sealing. 

How Long Do I Have to Wait for My DWI to be Sealed or Expunged?

For both expunctions and orders for nondisclosure, there is a certain waiting period for petitioners. Once this designated time period is over, a person can file their petition. Texas Government Code § 411.081(d) states a person may request for an order of nondisclosure after the following waiting periods:

  • Misdemeanor DWI – Immediately after issuing an order of dismissal and discharge.
  • Felony DWI – Five years after issuing an order of dismissal and discharge.

Expunctions also have their own designated time periods to file a petition. The following are the waiting periods for petitioners to request an expunction for a DWI:

  • Misdemeanor DWI – One year from the date of the arrest.
  • Felony DWI – Three years from the date of arrest.

Additional Resources

Expunctions in Texas – Visit a document provided by the Texas Young Lawyers Association that details how expunctions work in Texas. Find more information about expungement and non-disclosure orders, how juveniles are handled for expungement, and how to apply for an expunction.

Texas Expunction Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a collection of laws and regulations for Texas criminal courts. Find more information about who qualifies for expungement, how close relatives can seek expunction for a deceased person, and the formal procedures for expunction.

Lawyer for Expunging DWI in Harris County, Texas

Have you been accused of driving while impaired? Are you still struggling with how the charges are affecting you weeks, months, or years after your case was dismissed? If so, you may have some uncovered options. You could be eligible to have your DWI records expunged or sealed.

Matthew Horak is a reputable criminal defense attorney who is skilled at obtaining expunctions for his clients. He is familiar with both expungement and order of non-disclosure laws and procedures. Gain an attorney who won’t only defend you but preserve your career. Call Matthew Horak at Horak Law and schedule a free consultation today. 

 Horak Law accepts clients throughout the greater Houston metropolitan area and surrounding cities including Bellaire, West University Place, Webster, and Missouri City.

This article was last updated on November 27, 2018.

  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion