Although most DWIs filed in Texas and the Houston area are filed as misdemeanors, they can still leave a
stain on a person’s background that can impact a person’s ability to find work, housing or obtain a
professional license, even decades after an arrest. After being arrested for DWI, you may be wondering
what your options are for erasing a DWI from your record.
Texas law provides a method of erasing a DWI from your record: an expunction. If you obtain an
expunction of a DWI charge, it is truly possible to put the arrest behind you as records of the arrest will
be destroyed. If you have been arrested for DWI, it is important to keep the goal of an expunction in
mind as it is the best – and only – way to completely remove a DWI from your record under Texas law.
How does an expunction erase a DWI from your record?
In Texas, an expunction causes records of the arrest to be destroyed. Once a DWI is expunged, you can
even deny the existence of the arrest in most instances (like on a job or housing application) and the
arrest will no longer appear on most criminal history searches. Legally, if your DWI is expunged, it is as if
the arrest never happened.
It is important to understand several things about a DWI expunction. The first is that not every DWI is
eligible for an expunction. In Texas, almost all people who obtain an expunction of a DWI do so after
their case is dismissed or they go to trial and are found “not guilty” (there are a few other ways to
obtain an expunction in Texas, such as obtaining a pardon, but they are almost never applicable in
DWIs). In most cases, it is a safe assumption that you need your case dismissed or need an acquittal to
get your DWI expunged. If you pled guilty (regardless of the sentence) you will not be eligible to have
your DWI expunged. This includes situations where you were charged with DWI and were placed on any
kind of probation, or accepted a jail sentence, including a “time served.”
The next thing to understand is that an expunction is not automatic. Many people mistakenly believe
that if your case is dismissed, or if you are found “not guilty,” then your case will automatically be
removed from your record. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In Texas, an expunction is a separate legal
procedure that essentially involves a lawsuit against any agency that has a record of the arrest ordering
them to delete the records. Due to the many steps and agencies involved, an expunction can take 6
months or more but there is no question that it is the best way to remove a DWI from your record in
Texas. If you are eligible for an expunction it is highly advisable to begin the process of applying as it can
help you professionally or if you have any additional run-ins with the police.
If you have been arrested for DWI and want to erase the charge from your record, the first step is to find
a way to beat the case, either by obtaining a dismissal or an acquittal. Of course, this is the main reason
that it is important to hire an experienced DWI attorney. An experienced DWI attorney will have a clear
strategy to defend the case, know how to evaluate the facts and also be able to help you weigh your
Attorney Jose Ceja is a former prosecutor who has successfully handled hundreds of DWIs throughout
the Greater Houston area. He has spent hundreds of hours studying the science of breath and blood
testing and is certified to administer Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). If you are arrested for
DWI anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm for a free consultation.