For many years, people who were convicted of DWI in Texas had no way to get their charges and convictions expunged. If you were convicted of DWI, it would haunt you forever. It didn’t matter if it was your first and only criminal offense. If you were arrested for driving while intoxicated, it would stay on your criminal record forever.
For the most part, criminal records in Texas are available to the public. This means that, if you apply for a job or special college program, your DWI would show up on your background check. Even people who were charged with a crime when they were a teenager would show up twenty or thirty years later.
Whether or not you can apply for an expungement of your DWI depends on what happened in your original case. If you were merely arrested for DUI, it may be possible to get your records expunged or sealed. However, if you were formally charged and or convicted of DWI, it’s a different story entirely.
Thankfully, in 2017, Texas passed a new law that helps certain first-time offenders. However, in order to qualify for the program, you have to meet certain criteria. You also have to make sure your request is made properly. This is why you shouldn’t try to handle this yourself. You should let an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer handle it for you.
Your Criminal Defense Lawyer in Houston Knows What Records You Can Get Expunged in Texas
If you’re looking to clean up your criminal record, it’s important to understand what can and can’t be expunged. Unlike some other states, it’s really hard to get any criminal records expunged in Texas. They do this so that people are even more deterred from getting arrested and charged with any crime, regardless of how minor.
The general rule is that, if you’re arrested for a DWI in Texas, you may be able to get it expunged. But if you’re actually charged or convicted of DWI, you will not be able to get it expunged. When you think about this, it makes sense. If you’re never charged, it’s like it never happened. Or, if you’re charged but the case is dismissed, it shows that the State probably didn’t have enough evidence against you to begin with.
The following guidelines apply when it comes to whether or not you can expunge your DWI in Houston, Texas:
- If you were a minor at the time of the arrest (under 21) – If you were under the legal drinking age, you can probably get the arrest expunged. The court understands that young people make mistakes. They shouldn’t have to pay for it the rest of their lives.
- The charges were never filed – If you were arrested but the charges were never filed, it means that there wasn’t enough evidence against you. This means you probably would’ve been acquitted had the State filed charges.
- The State dismissed the case – If your case was dismissed, you will be able to apply for an expungement. This could’ve been because there wasn’t enough evidence or your criminal defense lawyer in Houston pointed out holes in the prosecutor’s case.
- You were found not guilty – If this happens, the State clearly didn’t have a strong enough case. You can request an expungement of these records.
- You appealed your conviction and won – This is no different from being found not guilty.
Your Houston criminal defense lawyer can review your case and let you know if expungement is an option. They can also explain whether or not you qualify for the HB 3016 program.
What is the HB 3016 First Time Offender Program?
In June of 2017, Texas passed House Bill 3016. It went into effect on September 1, 2017. This program helps first-time offenders apply for an expungement of their DWI conviction under certain circumstances.
The requirements for this program include:
- It was your first and only DWI arrest or conviction
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was under .15
- You weren’t arrested for either BWI (boating) or FWI (flying)
- You haven’t been convicted of any crime since
Your skilled Houston defense attorney can help you apply for this program. They can also give you an idea of whether or not they think you will qualify for the program.
Call an Experienced Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer if You Were Convicted of DWI
If you’ve been arrested or charged with a DWI in Houston, you need help. There is too much at stake to try to handle this yourself. That’s why you need to call an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer.
However, if you’ve already been convicted and are interested in having your records expunged, it will be tricky. A skilled criminal defense attorney at Eddington & Worley can help.