Are you wondering how long does a DWI stay on your record in Texas? If yes, you should click here for the important things to know.
84.6% of Americans over the legal driving age have a driver’s license. But just because you pass your drivers test this does not mean you will always be allowed on the road.
Getting a DWI or other road violation conviction may result in you having your license suspended or taken away permanently. Every year this happens to around one million drivers. However, different state laws treat DWIs differently.
So how long does a DWI stay on your record in Texas and what are the penalties for this sort of conviction? If you have recently got a DWI knowing the answers to these questions is extremely important.
In that case, you are in the right place! Read on to find out what happens when you get a DWI and how long it will be on your record.
What is a DWI?
DWI is an acronym for ‘driving while impaired’ or (sometimes) ‘driving while intoxicated’. In Texas, it applies to anyone driving a vehicle while:
- Over the legal alcohol limit (0.08% blood alcohol concentration – BAC – or more)
- Under the influence of a controlled substance
- Under the influence of alcohol who doesn’t have normal function of their physical or mental faculties
This is an extremely dangerous thing to do and everyday drink driving kills at least 29 people in America. That adds up to over 10,000 deaths every year.
Because of this, getting a DWI, even if you haven’t injured anyone, comes with some pretty serious penalties in the state of Texas. These apply to anyone over the age of 21, unlike DUIs.
Depending on your blood alcohol level, your conviction may be a Class B misdemeanor or a Class A misdemeanor (for people with a BAC over 0.15%.) Anyone arrested for a DWI for drug use may also face additional drug charges.
Let’s take a closer look at what a DWI conviction involves.
What Happens When You’re Convicted of a DWI in Texas?
The penalty for DWI in Texas varies depending on the circumstances in which you were driving.
A first conviction can result in a fine of up to $2,000 and the loss of your driver’s license for up to a year. You will also have to spend anything between 3 and 180 days in jail.
However, if you are carrying a child (anyone under the age of 15) in your vehicle, your penalties will be much steeper. In that case, you will receive a fine of up to $10,000 and loss of your driver’s license for at least 180 days. You will also face jail time of up to two years.
Penalities for second or third convictions are also much more severe. For a second conviction, you face fines of up to $4,000, between one month and a year’s jail time, and loss of your license for up to two years. For a third offense, the penalty includes fines of up to $10,000, between two and ten years in prison, and the loss of your license for up to two years.
Drivers with repeat convictions will also have to have the vehicles fitted with special ignition devices. These require you to pass a breathalyzer test before your vehicle will start to ensure that you haven’t been drinking.
However, even after you’ve served your penalty, people may be able to see your DWI conviction. So how long is a DWI on your record?
How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?
There are plenty of great defenses that a lawyer can use to get DWI charges overturned or reduced. However, if you are convicted this will immediately enter the court record.
This means that anyone who looks up your criminal background after that point will be able to see the conviction, no matter how long ago you received it.
This can make things very difficult for you when applying for certain jobs. If a background check is run and they see that you have a DWI conviction then this may mean you do not get hired. It can also make finding a home to rent difficult as certain landlords may not be comfortable with criminal convictions.
So, can you get a DWI off your record?
Well, fortunately, there are two main things you can do to get a DWI conviction removed. If you are eligible, you may be able to get your records sealed or expunged.
Getting Your DWI Conviction Sealed
Back in 2017, Texas passed a new law that allows all Texan residents to petition courts to have their convictions sealed. This essentially means that certain previous convictions would be hidden from anyone running background checks on you, such as potential employers and landlords.
This law covers DWI convictions. This means that you can petition to have your record sealed provided that:
- You did not have a BAC of 0.15% or more
- It was your first offense
- You served your sentence in full, including serving jail time, paying fines, and waiting out your license suspension
- You paid any and all the court-imposed fees from your conviction
- You have not had any other sort of criminal conviction since your DWI conviction
If a judge defers your probation period you can also have your court records sealed once you have served your probation period satisfactorily.
You have to wait two years from getting a conviction before you can petition to seal your record. This wait-period demonstrates to the court that your offense was a one-time act that you are not likely to repeat.
This prevents employers, landlords, and even some members of the police force from viewing your record. However, it does not mean that your conviction has been overturned.
To have your record wiped completely, you will need to have it expunged. Let’s take a look at what this involves.
Getting Your DWI Conviction Expunged
Getting your DWI conviction expunged means that it will be wiped from your record forever. This means that no one will be able to see that you were ever convicted of the crime.
However, in order for this to happen, you have to overthrow the conviction itself. You cannot have a record expunged while your DWI conviction still stands. This might sound like an impossible task but it is easier than you might think.
If a ‘not guilty’ verdict is returned on your case then you can have it expunged from your record. This means that, if a lawyer can have your case retried with a different outcome you could have your verdict overthrown.
It may be easier to expunge your record by having your case dismissed. This can happen if you were a minor when you were arrested or if your arrest did not follow the correct police protocol. Your lawyer can also question the validity of evidence in order to have your case dismissed.
If neither of these options suits your case, you may be able to have your record expunged by pleading guilty to a lesser charge. For example, your lawyer may try to get you tried for reckless driving rather than DWI. This is a class-C traffic violation and comes with a much less severe penalty.
Getting Help From a Lawyer
If you are serious about having your DWI conviction removed from your record, it is a good idea to get help from an experienced lawyer.
They will be able to examine your case and figure out the best route for you to take. For example, they will quickly be able to tell if it is worth trying to expunge your record completely or if getting your record sealed will be easier.
In order to do this, they will look at the circumstances of your arrest and conviction, along with any other supporting evidence. They will also want to look at your record since your conviction. This is a good place to look for examples of good behavior and character.
Obviously, what you want is also extremely important as it is your lawyer’s job to represent your interests. So if you want your record wiped entirely, tell them this and they will do everything in their power to achieve it.
If you cannot get your record expunged, then they will be able to talk you through your final two options. These are winning a pardon from your governor or president or filing a writ of Habeas Corpus if you are still serving time in jail.
Speak to a Lawyer About Your DWI Record Today!
If you have a DWI on your record and are wondering ‘how long does a DWI stay on your record in Texas?’ you might not be happy with the answer. Thankfully, you have several ways to keep your DWI convicted hidden from view.
For more advice on getting your record sealed or expunged, get in touch today to speak to one of our team. We are here to help!