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New Texas Law Makes Many First-Time DWI Offenders Eligible to Receive Orders of Non-Disclosure

You know that Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction you received several years back that keeps popping up and making you look bad whenever someone like an employer runs a criminal background check on you? Yeah, I bet you do. In the past, you may have even tried to see if there was any way to at least get the conviction sealed, so it wouldn’t continue to show up on a criminal history search. But, as you probably learned, there wasn’t. Up until recently, there was pretty much no real way to keep a DWI conviction from showing up on a criminal background check. But, as of September 1, 2017, you may now be in luck!

What is an Order of Non-Disclosure?

If you’re researched it or heard people talking about having their records “sealed,” what this technically refers to under Texas law is an Order of Non-Disclosure. An Order of Non-Disclosure is a court order prohibiting public entities* such as courts, police, and the Texas Department of Public Safety from disclosing certain criminal records. It also allows a person to legally deny the information contained in the Order of Non-Disclosure, which is extremely helpful when responding to questions related to employment applications and interviews.

*Please note, there are exceptions. Certain state agencies are still entitled to obtain information concerning an offense that is the subject of an Order of Non-Disclosure.

How has the Law Changed Regarding Orders of Non-Disclosure?

Before September 1, 2017, a person could only receive an Order of Non-Disclosure if he or she was placed on deferred adjudication, successfully completed it, and received a discharge and dismissal of the underlying offense. And, since deferred adjudication is not available for DWI offenses, this meant a person could never receive an Order of Non-Disclosure for a DWI.

But, as of September 1, 2017, House Bill 3016 went into effect, which amended Texas’ Non-Disclosure laws to allow people who have been convicted of a DWI to receive Orders of Non-Disclosures in certain situations. And, the new laws are retroactive, which means even if you received a DWI conviction prior to September 1, 2017, they still apply to you.

Who is Eligible to Receive an Order of Non-Disclosure for a DWI Conviction?

Unfortunately, not everyone who has been convicted of a DWI is eligible to receive an Order of Non-Disclosure under the new laws. House Bill 3016 only applies to people who have been convicted of a first-time DWI offense with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) less than 0.15. So, if your DWI conviction was for a Class A Misdemeanor where your BAC was 0.15 or greater, you are not eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure, even if it was your first offense.

In addition to the requirements mentioned above, you must also meet all of the following conditions:

  • You must have never been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication for any other offense (Class C Misdemeanor traffic citations punishable by fine only do not count);
  • You must have completed your community supervision (probation) or jail sentence;
  • You must have paid all of your fine, court costs, and any restitution that was owed; and
  • Your DWI must not have involved a motor vehicle accident.

If you meet and have satisfied all of the above conditions, you should be eligible to receive an Order of Non-Disclosure.

How Soon Can You Receive an Order of Non-Disclosure After a DWI Conviction?

Well, it depends. Use the following situations and determine which one applies to you to calculate when you are eligible to petition a court for an Order of Non-Disclosure.

  • If you received community supervision (probation) and had a deep lung device (breathalyzer) for at least 6 months, you should become eligible 2 years after successfully completing your community supervision.
  • If you received community supervision and did not have a deep lung device for at least 6 months, you should become eligible 5 years after successfully completing your community supervision.
  • If you received community supervision but failed to successfully complete it, you should become eligible 3 years after completing your jail sentence, as long as you still had a deep lung device for at least 6 months. If you did not have a deep lung device for at least 6 months, then you should become eligible 5 years.
  • If you received a jail sentence (no community supervision at all) and did not have a deep lung device for at least 6 months, you should become eligible after 5 years.

Petition the Court to Receive an Order of Non-Disclosure for Your DWI Conviction

The new laws regarding Orders of Non-Disclosure finally provide a way for many Texans to keep their DWI convictions from showing up on criminal background checks. If you think you may be eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure and would like our help, or if you have questions concerning how the new laws apply to you and your specific situation, please contact us today at (972) 372-4054 to learn how we can help!

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