By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Until recently the only way to hide a Driving While Intoxicated Arrest from the Public was to win your case or have it dismissed. Often a tall order.
The Texas Legislature passed & the Governor signed a law in 2017 allowing non-disclosures for DWI cases where the person qualifies after a DWI conviction. A non-disclosure hides the arrest and court records from the public. It can still be viewed by many public entities and it shouldn’t be confused with an expunction which is a complete destruction of the arrest records. But its still pretty good.
There is a big debate amongst lawyers whether this provision is retroactive — that is whether you can clear something which happened prior to September 1, 2017. Early returns suggest you can.
Here’s how you qualify to non-disclose a DWI:
- First time offense
- No car accident in the arrest
- Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) below 0.15
- Get probation for your DWI
- Have Interlock Ignition Device on your car for 6 Months of your probation.
- Wait 2-years from the date your probation ends
The provision was like lightning from a clear-blue sky. As you can imagine, DWI arrestees have been a punching bag for politicians in Texas for the past 40 years. Interestingly, there is no requirement you plead guilty — which means you could take your case to trial and if you lose — still qualify for the non-disclosure. It would give a DWI arrestee two bites at the apple so to speak.
Last two things — (1) if you’ve been charged with DWI in Texas, make sure the record is clear at your plea (or sentencing after trial) that you meet all of these requirements to make it easier down the road. (2) If you’ve got a DWI from 2017 or before, check to see if you qualify.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.