If you are arrested for a Texas DWI you may be tempted to simply plead guilty and put the charges behind you. Unfortunately, many DWI convictions cannot be expunged, which means in the future your arrest record can be reviewed by private companies, a landlord, and a prospective employer. The information may also be entered into the Texas Department of Public Safety systems as well as reported to the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC) and National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
When can my Texas DWI be expunged?
There are two ways that your DWI charge can be expunged from your criminal record. First, if you have been charged with a Texas DWI you can plead not guilty and request a trial. Assuming you have enough evidence to prove you were not operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are acquitted by the court, and you meet all the pre-requisites of Tex.Code.Crim.P. Chapter 55, you can request to have your driving record expunged.
Another way to have your Texas DWI arrest expunged is to have your case dismissed by the Texas District Attorney. For example, if you are arrested for a Texas DWI and the state fails to file criminal charges within the statute of limitations or charges are filed but the state dismisses the case you may also lawfully have your record expunged under Chapter 55 of the Texas Penal Code.
Other reasons you may have your criminal record expunged include the following:
- You were acquitted of a misdemeanor or felony offense.
- You were pardoned after a misdemeanor or felony arrest.
- You were arrested, released, and never charged with an offense.
- You were arrested and charged but later released and you were not convicted and the court did not order community service (exceptions exist for Class C misdemeanors)
- You were arrested, tried for an offense, and convicted but the court of appeals later acquitted you of all charges.
When is a Texas DWI not eligible for expungement?
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. § 55.01 details when a criminal record can be expunged. For example, if you have been convicted of a Texas DWI and the charges against you did not result in an acquittal or pardon, you will not be allowed to have your criminal record expunged. You will only be able to seek non-disclosure of your criminal record. Some licensing agencies and private entities, however, may still have access to this information.
Unfortunately, most individuals who have been convicted of a Texas DWI will NOT be allowed to have their DWI conviction sealed or expunged.
Should I plead guilty or fight the Texas DWI charges?
Whether or not to fight your Texas DWI depends on the amount of evidence the state has against you and whether or not you believe you can win your DWI case. Talk to a lawyer for information before making any decisions about your Texas DWI case.
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