The first question on many people’s minds after being arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is, “Can I get this expunged?” Expungement, or sometimes called expunction, is the process of sealing or eliminating an arrest or conviction from a person’s public legal record. Texas laws regarding expungement can be confusing and complicated. Let’s take a closer look at when a DWI can and can’t be expunged.
Situations when expungement might be possible
If a person was only arrested for a DWI, then there is a chance of expungement if certain conditions are met. The following four factors could make one eligible or even entitled to expungement.
- If a person was arrested for DWI and then the case was dismissed, or “nolle prosequi”
- If the conviction was later overturned in a court of appeals and results in being acquitted
- If a person’s arrest didn’t result in being charged by the District Attorney
- If after being convicted the defendant was later pardoned or found innocent
When is the expungement of a DWI impossible?
If the DWI arrest results in a Texas conviction, expungement is impossible. DWI convictions in Texas stay on criminal records permanently, and there is no “wash-out period” as with other charges. It is imperative to be proactive about expungement before a conviction is incurred.
The perfect time to research and seek counsel about expunging a DWI is immediately after being arrested. While the arrest has not resulted in a conviction there is a window of opportunity to build a defense strategy that includes expungement. The prosecutor can recommend expungement, probation or both. If expungement is an option, then there may be a two- to five-year waiting period before doing so. This is why it’s important to have expert representation that knows what is and isn’t within the legal realm of possibility.