I can probably count on both hands (maybe even one hand) the number of bills I've seen come out of the State legislature that actually benefit criminal defendants. This year has one of those bills. HB 3016 amends the current law, and grants to ability to have the record of a DWI conviction sealed for certain individuals. To say this is a HUGE step forward would be an understatement. DWI has long been one of the few misdemeanors for which a defendant could not received deferred adjudication. That has always meant that a DWI conviction - even where you receive and successfully complete probation, will remain on your record forever. While you still cannot receive deferred adjudication for a DWI charge, this bill does all the records of that conviction to be sealed.
Here are the requirements to have your record sealed:
Successfully complete community supervision
This law only applies to defendants where were placed on community supervision, and sucessfully completed it. That includes paying all fines and costs, and restitution if there was any. Sometimes a period of confinement is imposed as a condition of community supervision - such as three days in jail. That does not prevent you from obtaining relief as long as the period of supervision was successfully completed.
No prior convictions
This applies only to first-time offenders. You are not eligible for relief if you've been convicted any offense, other than a traffic offense that is punishable by fine only. For purposes of this statute, you are not eligible for relief if you were placed on deferred adjudication. Even though that is not a conviction, it is going to count in this situation.
You were not convicted of an enhanced offense where the blood alcohol result was over .15
If your offense was enhanced to a class A misdemeanor because your blood/breath result was over .15, you do not qualify for an order of non-disclosure. The way the statute is worded, it does not appear that you will be denied relief if your results were over .15, but the offense was not enhanced.
You were not involved in an accident
The statute does not apply if you involved in a motor vehicle accident involving another person. That includes a person in the vehicle operated by the defendant.
Time for filing
The Statute sets out two different waiting periods. The distinction is whether the term of community supervision required the installation of an ignition interlock device. Both waiting periods start running from the date community supervision is completed.
If an ignition interlock was required, the waiting period is two.
In all other cases the waiting period is going to be five years.
This statute goes into effect on September 1, 2017. However, it specifically applies to those individuals were convicted, and placed on community supervision prior to September 1.
We are already in the process of notifying our past clients. If you would like to contact us and discuss whether you qualify for a non-disclosure, give us a call at 254-296-0020, or fill out the contact form on this page.