How long does DWI stay on your record in Texas?
You probably already know that a DWI conviction is serious.
That’s why you’re doing your research now about DWI charges.
The short answer to the question of how long a DWI stays on your record in Texas is: forever.
That’s right. Unless you can get it expunged, a DWI conviction will become part of your public and legal records. It will remain permanently on your criminal record and there is no “washout period”.
The same applies to whether it’s your first offense or not.
Of course, a criminal conviction may affect:
- Your short- and long-term career prospects
- The type of job you will be able to apply for in the future
- Your ability to earn income
- Your right to own a firearm
- Your insurance premiums
- Your immigration status (if you’re not a U.S. citizen)
It might even mean jail time. You will also lose your driver’s license for up to 12 months.
This probably seems really harsh. You essentially pay for the rest of your life for what might have been a single mistake on the roads.
So, if you’re faced with a DWI charge, you need to work hard with an experienced lawyer to get the case dismissed – or to win it.
That’s the only surefire way to ensure that a DWI charge doesn’t stay on your record for the rest of your life.
Texas laws on Accessing Conviction Data
Anyone in Texas can search, obtain information about, and study your records as a public right according to the Texas Public Information Act.
Your criminal conviction in the state of Texas will likely stay on your record indefinitely. In general, only non-conviction data can be erased off a person’s record, such as when a case is dismissed or defeated.
When you apply for a job, you will have to list the DWI conviction on your application and you may be turned down for a position because of it.
What is an expungement and how does it happen?
Expungement (sometimes called “expunction”) is where data is erased from your legal record.
Erasure of a conviction record is possible according to expunction laws in Texas (Chapter 55 of the Texas Code) – but usually very difficult.
You must apply to the governor of the state and seek a petition for expunging a DWI record. There are many conditions even to apply for this.
A first or second DWI offense is a Class A or Class B misdemeanor in Texas.
This means that the expungement option is not usually available for convictions for at least a year after the conviction. However, it may be possible for a judge to overrule this if there is good cause.
In rare cases, a pardon can be granted by the state governor.
In most cases, the data on your file relating to your arrest and charges will only be expunged when the DWI charges against you are dismissed by a judge.
What is Deferred Adjudication?
Deferred adjudication is another circumstance when the DWI charges will not stay on your record indefinitely.
This is like a plea bargain made with the prosecutor when, if you meet a set of predetermined conditions over a certain period of time, your case will be dismissed.
It is a possibility only for first-time DWI offenders deemed by judges to deserve the chance to complete a type of probation termed “deferred adjudication”.
The charges against you are effectively dismissed in return for a “guilty” or “no contest” plea.
However, if you fail to meet the terms of the agreement or you receive another charge within the specified timeframe, you will automatically receive a criminal conviction.
What’s Your Best Chance of Escaping a Permanent Criminal Record?
If you’re facing a DWI charge, your best chance of avoiding the serious short and long-term consequences described is to work closely with an experienced DWI lawyer here in Texas.
Fortunately, you’re still innocent until proven guilty in this country.
A lawyer with strong experience of defending DWI charges in your area will be able to assess your case, examine all the evidence and potentially find ways to get the charges against you dismissed (or at least reduced).
No matter how bad your case looks, there is always a chance that the case against you is not as watertight as you fear. Law enforcement officers frequently make mistakes when gathering evidence and forming a DWI case.
If the evidence against you is insufficient, inconsistent, or flawed, your case will be thrown out.
So, there is still hope!
Call or text 210-920-1281 today for a free case evaluation with Trey Porter, a DWI attorney based in San Antonio.
If you prefer, complete our online contact form.
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Stephen, October 2017
Mr Porter was recommended to me by a coworker. He helped her out of a DWI 3 years ago, and he did the same for me.
Sammy, September 2017
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Sheila Torres, July 2018
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Bindia, March 2018