2019 Texas DWI Deferred Adjudication Bill.
On September 1, 2019, Texas changed some of its DWI laws. H.B. 3582 now allows some drivers arrested for a first-time DWI to qualify for deferred adjudication. As a result, some drivers can avoid a DWI conviction on their records. More importantly, these drivers can later ask a judge to seal their DWI criminal records. This can help some people pass a background check during a job search.
What is DWI Deferred Adjudication?
DWI deferred adjudication is probation. The major difference with this new change in the law is the judge does not find you guilty of DWI. Instead, the judge allows you to complete probation and then dismisses your case if you follow all the rules of probation. In other words, there is no conviction on your record.
However, you must still complete probation. This means you:
- Report to a probation officer;
- Pay a fine;
- Perform community-service hours;
- Attend DWI education courses; and
- Take and pass random UAs.
If you do all this, then the judge will dismiss your case. This also allows you ask a judge to seal your record. We will talk about this option below.
Who qualifies for DWI Deferred Adjudication in Texas?
First-time DWI drivers with low BAC tests and no criminal history will qualify for this option. Notably, your BAC test must be between .08 and .14. Consequently, if your BAC is .15 or more, then you will not qualify for this relief. In addition, if you have a CDL or a CDL permit, then you do not qualify. Finally, if you had a child in the car of if someone is hurt or killed, then you will not qualify either.
Nonetheless, some prosecutors will work with first-time DWI drivers to avoid a trial. They may agree to waive the high BAC test so that the driver qualifies for this type of probation. But that decision is up to the State. In sum, the new law gives the State and the Defense a good option to work out a plea deal and avoid a trial.
If I complete DWI Deferred Adjudication, will it show up on my background check?
Yes. But you can seal your criminal record if you complete this probation. Chiefly, Texas law allows you to file a petition for nondisclosure. This seals your criminal-history record, which stops your DWI record from showing up in some background checks.
However, there are limits to this option. For example, if you apply to become a lawyer, doctor, CPA, or school teacher, then this information will show up in the background check. More importantly, your information may turn up in an FBI background check. This is because a state judge cannot tell a federal agency to seal its records.
How do I seal my criminal records after I complete DWI Deferred Adjudication in Bexar County, Texas?
Texas law allows first-time DWI drivers to seal their criminal records. Take these steps to seal your DWI record.
How to get your DWI deferred adjudication criminal records sealed in San Antonio, Texas.
- Complete DWI Probation.
Successfully complete misdemeanor DWI deferred adjudication probation. This means you cannot get your DWI probation revoked.
- Get your case dismissed after you complete probation.
The judge will dismiss your case under Article 42A.111 of the Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. if you successfully complete probation.
- You must have a clean record.
Tex. Gov’t Code Sec. 411.0726(b)(3) states the driver must “have never been previously convicted or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for another offense, other than a traffic offense that is punishable by fine only.” Thus, you cannot have been on probation for any other case aside from traffic tickets.
- Allow the two-year waiting period to pass.
Tex. Gov’t Code 411.0726(f) requires the driver to wait two years from the date the DWI case is dismissed before he or she can ask the judge to seal the records.
- Keep your record clean during the two-year waiting period.
You must avoid being convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for a new crime during the two-year waiting period.
- File a Petition for Nondisclosure.
File a petition for nondisclosure with the court that placed you on probation.
- Pay the filing fee.
When you file your petition, you must also pay a filing fee. In Bexar County, Texas, the filing fee is $350.00.
- Optional: Hire a DWI Attorney to help with the paperwork.
You have an option. You can represent yourself or you can hire a DWI attorney to help you with the paperwork. This is a personal choice based on your budget. But a DWI Attorney will make sure your paperwork is done correctly.
I crashed my car during the DWI. Can I still get my record sealed?
Maybe. Maybe not. But it will depend on the facts. The new law does not allow a judge to seal your records if the following are true:
- The DWI crash involved “another person“ other than the DWI driver.
- The other person maybe a pedestrian, a driver in another car, or the passenger in your car.
Accordingly, if the car crash did not involve “another person,” then you can still get your record sealed. In contrast, if the crash involved “another person,” then you cannot get your record sealed.
San Antonio DWI and DUI Defense Attorney.
The new law helps drivers arrested for a first-time DWI case. It gives them a real benefit if they want to plead guilty. However, a person in this position should speak with a San Antonio DWI Defense Attorney to see if the benefits of pleading out outweighs the cost fighting the case.