Do you qualify for a Non-disclosure Order for a previous DWI conviction?
As a general rule, if you have a conviction for a criminal case in Texas, it is a matter of public record. That means that the general public can usually find out about those convictions by looking at public database websites and other sources. Fairly recently, the Texas Legislature made it possible to allow certain individuals who qualify under the provisions of the law to obtain Non-disclosure Orders of their DWI convictions. The Governor signed H.B. 3016 into law on June 15, 2017, which became effective in September of that same year. It applies retroactively to all DWI cases in the State of Texas, meaning it can apply to old DWI cases, not just those that occur on or after the effective date of the legislation.
A DWI case is usually a class B misdemeanor in Texas unless the individual charged has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 percent or higher. In those higher BAC cases, the DWI can become a class A misdemeanor. DWIs can also be enhanced to felony grade offenses by alleging prior DWI convictions or other factors.
So, how does one qualify for a Non-disclosure Order under the new law?
In order to qualify for a Non-disclosure Order, an individual must not have been convicted of DWI as a class A misdemeanor with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. The DWI in question must not have involved an accident with another person, which could involve a driver of another vehicle or a passenger in the same vehicle, even if no one was hurt during the offense. The individual must be able to show that they have no prior convictions, including cases in which they may have been placed on probation or deferred adjudication probation for anything other than minor traffic offenses.
There are some unusual time limits based on specific criteria that govern when an individual may file a Petition for Non-disclosure in a DWI case. Those time constraints depend on two factors: Whether the individual received community supervision, probation or deferred probation and successfully completed the probation and whether the sentence imposed in the DWI required the individual to install a breath interlock or ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a period of at least 6 months. Those individuals who received a jail sentence also might qualify for the Non-disclosure Order.
If the individual received community supervision for the DWI offense, completed all of the requirements of the probations including payment of all costs, fines, and restitution and used an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months, that individual can file a petition for Non-disclosure two years after the date they completed community supervision. If that person was not required to use an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months, they must wait five years after completion of their community supervision to file the petition. Tex Govt. Code Sec. 411.0731
If the individual served a jail sentence, as opposed to community supervision, then they must wait for a period of three years after the date of the successful completion of their sentence if they were required to use an ignition interlock device for 6 months or more as a condition of the sentence. If the Court did not require the use of that kind of device for that time period then they must wait five years after the completion of their sentence before filing a petition. Tex. Govt. Code Sec. 411.0736
This new law can be very helpful for those individuals that would like to have a way of directing public officials and database agencies to not release information to the general public about a prior DWI conviction. If you are interested in this procedure, please call us to see if you qualify for such an order.