Can you get Deferred Adjudication for a DWI in Texas?

In 2019, Texas updated its DWI laws. It now offers Texas DWI Deferred Adjudication for many first-time DWI offenders. This is a major change in Texas DWI law that gives a suspected drunk driver the chance to avoid a criminal conviction on his or her record.

But how does this law work? What are the pros and cons of this type of probation? And what should you know before you take a deferred plea offer? This post will answer these questions. And we will provide you with a roadmap of what to expect if you have a DWI criminal case pending in San Antonio, Texas.

How does Texas DWI Deferred Adjudication work?

Texas DWI deferred adjudication is probation without a conviction. Namely, it allows the suspected drunk driver to accept responsibility for what he did while also avoiding a criminal conviction on his or her record. If the suspected drunk driver completes probation, then the court will dismiss the charge.

However, DWI deferred adjudication comes with strings attached. Only a judge can grant this type of probation. And you can only get this option if you waive a jury trial and plead out. That means if you take your case to trial and lose, then you are no longer eligible for DWI deferred adjudication.

Equally important, you must still complete probation. This means you will have to do the following:

  1. Report to a probation officer;
  2. Pay a fine;
  3. Perform community-service hours;
  4. Attend DWI education courses; and
  5. Take and pass random drug and alcohol tests while on probation.

Once you do all this, then the court will dismiss your case. From there you maybe able to seal your record. We will talk more about this last option below.

Who is eligible 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, there is a child in the car or 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 to help the driver become eligible for a deferred sentence. But that decision is up to the State. In sum, this law gives the State and the Defense a fair option to work out a plea deal.

If I complete DWI Deferred Adjudication, can I get my DWI record sealed?

Yes. But you must take additional steps to seal your record. Specifically, you must file a petition for non-disclosure with the court. This is a separate suit from your DWI charge. As a result, you will also have to pay filing fees for this suit. Or you can hire an attorney to seal your records for you.

If the judge grants your request to seal your records, then it will help stop your DWI record from showing up on background checks. However, there are limits to sealing your records.

For example, if you apply to become a lawyer, doctor, CPA, or school teacher, then the DWI 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?

How to get your DWI deferred adjudication criminal records sealed in San Antonio, Texas.

  1. Complete DWI Probation.

    Successfully complete misdemeanor DWI deferred adjudication probation.

  2. The judge must dismissed your case 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Check to see if there is a waiting period for your case.

    Tex. Gov’t Code 411.0726(f) has a two-year waiting period for DWI cases. That means you must wait two years from the date you completed probation before you can ask the judge to seal your records.

  5. Keep your record clean during the waiting period.

    You must stay out of trouble during the waiting period.

  6. File a Petition for Nondisclosure.

    File a petition for nondisclosure with the court that placed you on probation.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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 Law Firm.

Genaro R. Cortez is a DWI and DUI defense attorney in San Antonio, Texas. Since 2003, he’s helped clients with misdemeanor and felony DWI cases in Bexar County, Texas. If you have a DWI charge in San Antonio, then call Genaro R. Cortez for a free case consult. 210-733-7575.