How Long Does A DWI Conviction Stay On Record?
DUI/DWI convictions cast a significant shadow on an individual’s life, prompting questions about the lasting impact and, more specifically, how long a DWI conviction stays on record. Texas, known for its stringent approach to drunk driving, imposes severe penalties on those found guilty of DWI offenses.
In this blog post, we will explore the intricacies of DUI/DWI laws in Texas, the duration of its conviction on an individual’s record, and the consequential effects and various opportunities to mitigate.
Overview of DUI/DWI Laws in Texas
Getting charged with a DWI means that an adult must show they’re not using their mind or body as usual. However, when it comes to a DUI, appear differently. A minor doesn’t have to prove any mental or physical impairment. Even a trace amount of alcohol or drugs on the breath is enough.
The state takes drunk driving seriously, setting the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.08%. If you get caught drunk driving,
Your punishment for a DUI / DWI depends on whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, plus any other charges that come up during the legal process. This could have lasting effects on you. But don’t forget, there’s also a long-term effect on your criminal record that’s just as important.
Why fight to clear a DUI / DWI from your record?
Before we proceed, you may be wondering whether it’s worthwhile to expunge a DWI from your history. After the DWI case is concluded, there’s a strong urge to proceed forward. However, your conviction shows up right away on your record, visible to anyone checking your criminal history. Common situations include:
- Losing your right to drive
- Impact on professional certifications like medical, nursing, real estate, and pilot licenses
- Influence on child custody decisions
- Increased expenses for driver’s insurance
- Difficulty qualifying for mortgages and student loans
- Affecting your voting rights
- Restrictions on purchasing and owning a firearm
- Challenges in maintaining a security clearance
- Limitations on having TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
Put simply, whether it’s something significant or small, even if you’ve learned from the past and want to move forward, the system might not make it easy for you.
Duration of a DUI / DWI Conviction Stay on Record
In Texas, a DWI conviction duration on your record depends on the offense severity and prior convictions. A first-time DWI remains on record for a minimum of three years. More convictions mean tougher penalties and a longer time on your record — possibly affecting your life for a decade or more.
A DUI or DWI conviction can bring lasting effects, usually staying on your criminal record forever. Unlike some states that may have ways to clear records after a certain time, Texas law doesn’t have a straightforward process to completely remove a DWI conviction.
But, even though a DWI conviction stays on your record indefinitely, there are ways to lessen its impact over time. To put it more directly in answering the question, “How long does it take for a DUI or DWI to come off your record in Texas?” — a DWI charge remains on your record until:
DUI or DWI Conviction Record Clearing Processes
- Case Dismiss
If the judge lacks sufficient evidence to convict you or if the evidence was unlawfully obtained, your case is likely to be dismissed.
- Reached Adulthood
Luckily, if you got your first and only DWI or DUI when you were younger, you might be able to expunged from your record once you become an adult. In Texas, the key difference between a DUI and DWI is that you can only get a DUI when you’re under 21 years old.
- Sealing DWI Conviction
In 2017, the state of Texas enacted a law that lets Texans request nondisclosure for a DWI and certain other situations. Nondisclosure involves hiding a conviction or taking it out of public sight.
Both sealing and expungement offer a chance to move forward as if your DWI never happened, but there are slight distinctions:
- Nondisclosure, also called “sealing the record,” removes your DWI details from public view. While law enforcement can still access it, civilians won’t find any information about your DWI.
- Expungement involves the court erasing all records of your original DWI arrest and charge, making it seem like those records never existed.
Expunging in Texas isn’t an option if convicted, but you can improve your record. If not eligible for expunction, consider sealing your DWI conviction records under Texas Government Code § 411.0731. While not as powerful as expungement, sealing offers significant benefits.
Sealed Record Mean
If you haven’t been acquitted or had your case dismissed, expunction may not be an option. In such cases, the next best choice is to file a Petition for Non-disclosure.
When a record is sealed, the public usually can’t see it, but government entities can. This is beneficial because criminal background checks by employers or landlords won’t reveal your conviction if your records are sealed.
While access to these records is limited, they still exist. Certain individuals and entities, particularly for government jobs or in case of a re-arrest, retain the right to review your sealed records.
DWI Non-Disclosure Qualifications
To be eligible, you must fulfill these requirements:
- It’s your initial and sole DWI conviction.
- Your blood alcohol content was below 0.15%.
- Your DWI did not cause a collision.
- You completed your sentence.
- All fines, restitution, and court-imposed costs are paid.
- You haven’t been convicted of another crime or put in deferred adjudication, excluding minor traffic offenses.
- You’ve finished the waiting period, which may be up to 5 years for some individuals.
Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!
Clearing your records through expungement or sealing is beneficial, but there are specific criteria to meet. Our committed attorneys can guide you on how long a Texas DWI stays on your record and help you pursue a clean slate.
Facing the hurdles of removing a DWI conviction, it’s crucial to strive for avoiding a conviction right after your arrest. If you’re prepared to contest a conviction, the Texas Criminal Defense Group has a proven history of advocating for our clients’ rights. We’re here to address all your concerns about DWIs and your record.