A DWI charge is a serious matter, serious enough that it may affect a person in collateral ways for many years — sometimes indefinitely.
In addition to the possibility of imprisonment and the numerous financial implications, various other aspects of life may also be adversely impacted by a DWI charge. Educational opportunities may be fewer and certain professional occupations may be out of reach because of an arrest for DWI (driving while intoxicated), also known as DUI (driving under the influence) or drunk driving.
Section 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure makes it possible — under certain circumstances — for a DWI record to be expunged. Under Section 411 of the Texas Government Code, a criminal record may be sealed (also known as "non-disclosure") from the public record. Either of these actions may reopen the doors of opportunity for some people.
The ability to expunge or seal a DWI record is not available to everyone — expunction or sealing is not possible after a DWI conviction — and it is sometimes a complicated process, but the benefits of expunging or sealing a DWI record are often worth the hassle.
Each DWI case is unique in that the facts and disposition of the case will establish whether an expunction or non-disclosure is legally possible. An experienced DWI attorney can determine if a particular DWI case is eligible for expunction or sealing and if either is likely to be granted in a specific jurisdiction.
If you were arrested for DWI by the Lewisville Police Department or the Denton County Sheriff's Office in any other Denton County, Texas jurisdiction and you are interested in expunging or sealing your DWI charge from the public record, you should contact a local DWI defense attorney today.
The DWI attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy are experienced in the process of expunging and sealing Texas DWI records. Our dedicated attorneys will be able to explain the Texas laws related to the expunction and sealing of DWI records and how the laws apply to you and your desire to expunge or seal your DWI record. If you are eligible for expunction or sealing, we will assist you throughout the process.
Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represents DWI clients throughout Denton County, including the cities of Denton, Lewisville, The Colony, Little Elm, Flower Mound and many nearby communities throughout the North Dallas metropolitan area, including the University of North Texas. Contact us today at 940-222-8004 so we may review your case and explain your options during a free, confidential consultation with one of our skilled DWI attorneys.
Expunction is the legal erasure of a criminal record. Texas law provides for the expunction of a criminal record only in certain situations under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Title 1, Chapter 55, Section 55.01.
If you were convicted of a DWI in Texas and your charges did not result in an acquittal, you cannot request an expunction, but you may be able to seek non-disclosure of your criminal record, which is akin to sealing your DWI record.
According to § 55.01, only the following situations permit the expunction of a criminal record in Texas:
Note: Under the law, a person may also be eligible for a DWI expunction if he or she received "deferred adjudication" from a court, however deferred adjudication has not been offered in Texas for more than three decades. If a DWI charge is reduced to an "obstruction of a passageway" offense, it may be eligible for expunction.
After a DWI expunction, a person may deny that an arrest ever occurred. Even if questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding, a person whose record was expunged is not legally required to provide details of the DWI arrest, but may say that the matter was expunged, without any other explanation (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, § 55.03).
Criminal records often must be disclosed on job applications, educational applications, and applications for certain types of governmental assistance, such as requests for public housing and food stamps, but if a criminal record has been expunged, a person may legally withhold that information.
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, § 55.02 lists the steps that must be taken to expunge a criminal record in Texas. The law requires the court to enter an order for expunction for every eligible individual who requests an expunction within 30 days of acquittal.
The person seeking expunction must submit the following information to the court in a petition, which must include:
The prosecutor and the judge will review a petition for expunction, but upon the receipt of an order granting expunction, each official, agency, or other governmental entity named in the order shall "obliterate all portions of the record or file that identify the petitioner" (§ 55.02).
Under the Texas Government Code, Title 4, Subtitle B, Chapter 411, § 411.0851, private entities must also comply with orders of expunction or non-disclosure. For example, a website featuring a mug shot from an arrest must take the photo offline and destroy any record of it after an expunction or non-disclosure order is approved.
Sealing a DWI record is more common in Texas than expunction. A person who is sentenced to deferred adjudication or community supervision and subsequently receives a discharge and dismissal is eligible to file a petition for non-disclosure and have the record sealed.
A person charged with misdemeanor DWI may petition the court for an order of non-disclosure once the offense is discharged and dismissed. A person charged with felony DWI may petition the court for an order of non-disclosure five years after the offense has been discharged and dismissed.
As with expunction, once a DWI record is sealed, a person is not required to disclose anything about the DWI incident in any application for employment, education or licensing.
Even after a criminal record is sealed, certain non-criminal justice agencies or entities are nevertheless entitled to receive information pertaining to criminal records from a criminal justice agency. According to § 411.0765 of the Texas Government Code, these agencies or entities may be permitted to receive information about sealed criminal records:
Another list, with some duplication, some new entities and others missing from the list above, names the licensing and regulatory agencies that may have access to sealed criminal records (See § 411.122).
Texas Constitution and Statutes — Code of Criminal Procedure: Expunction of Criminal Records — Read Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to learn about the laws related to expunction of criminal records, including the process for record expunction and what criminal offenses are not eligible for expunction.
Texas Constitution and Statutes — Government Code: Criminal Record Sealing — Read Section 411.081 of the Texas Government Code to lean about the laws related to sealing a criminal record, including how to request a non-disclosure under Texas law.
Expunctions in Texas — The Texas Young Lawyers Association, a subsidiary of the Texas Bar, has compiled a helpful handbook that explains both the expunction and non-disclosure (sealing) processes in Texas for a number of scenarios, with sample forms included.
Denton County District Clerk — Find access to criminal records and felony criminal case information, miscellaneous court information and resources about the justice system throughout Denton County. The Denton County criminal courts are located at:Denton County Courts Building
If you were arrested on a DWI charge in or around Denton County, Texas and seek to have the record of your DWI expunged or sealed, contact the experienced DWI lawyers at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.
The knowledgeable attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy provide candid advice and effective representation in all DWI cases. We understand the DWI process and we will make every effort to help you expunge or seal your DWI record if either action is legally possible. We serve clients throughout Denton County, including Lewisville, Denton, Flower Mound, Grapevine, Little Elm, The Colony, Westlake and the University of North Texas.
Contact the dedicated DWI lawyers at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today by calling 940-222-8004 to make an appointment to discuss your case and to learn how we can help.
This article was last updated on Monday, January 4, 2015.