September 1 marked the date that House Bill 3016, the legislation more commonly known as the “second chances” bill signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 15, went into effect. HB 3016 amended the Texas Government Code such that allows certain first-time, low-level offenders to seal their criminal records.
It is important to note that HB 3016 is retroactive, meaning that it applies to offenses committed before, on, or after September 1, 2017. Under the legislation, people convicted of certain nonviolent misdemeanors—such as include public intoxication, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass—will be eligible to apply for an order of nondisclosure (have their records sealed).
One nonviolent misdemeanor offense that several people will want to attempt to have sealed from their records is any conviction relating to a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense. In order for a person to be eligible to obtain an order of nondisclosure for a DWI conviction, all of the following must be true about the individual applying to have his or record sealed:
- He or she is a first-time DWI offender;
- He or she had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.14 or less;
- He or she was not involved in an accident as a result of operating a motor vehicle under the influence;
- He or she successfully completed any sentence handed down by the court, including any DWI program, probation, or jail sentence; and
- He or she paid all court costs and fees.
The waiting period to apply for an order of nondisclosure depends on whether individuals had any ignition interlock devices (IIDs) installed in all motor vehicles they own or operate. The waiting period is two years for people who had IIDs installed in their vehicles for at least six months, while the waiting period is five years for individuals who did not install IIDs in their vehicles.
Georgetown Lawyer for Sealing Criminal Records
Sealing a criminal record is not the same as expunging one. An expungement in Texas involves the actual destruction of a criminal record. Expunctions are limited only to individuals who either were never convicted of the crimes they were arrested for, had their convictions overturned, or were pardoned after being convicted.
When a person receives an order for nondisclosure, the criminal record is effectively sealed from public view. The record, however, remains accessible to law enforcement agencies and certain authorized state agencies. With certain exceptions, a person who has his or her criminal record sealed can legally deny that the arrest ever occurred.
If you are hoping to seal the record of your first DWI arrest anywhere in the greater Williamson County area, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel. Michael J. Price is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Georgetown who helps clients seal and expunge criminal records.