If you don’t know my story, I was arrested and charged with DWI in 2001. It was a difficult thing to go through when it happened. It was just as difficult every time I applied for a job, when I applied for law school, and when I applied for my law license because I would have to explain that I had been arrested and why I had been arrested.
What I didn’t know until I became a lawyer was that there are things that I could have done to keep my arrest from showing up on background checks or even admitting to being arrested on background checks.
Many first time DWIs in San Antonio don’t end in a conviction for DWI. In those cases that don’t end in a conviction, you may be eligible for an expunction or an order of nondisclosure.
If your DWI arrest didn’t result in any charges, if your case was dismissed, or if your case went to trial and you won, you are eligible for an expunction. An expunction is an order from the court, directing every agency that has a record of your arrest to destroy those records. Once those records are destroyed, the arrest will stop showing up on background checks. Additionally, if you are asked if you were arrested or charged with a crime, you can say, “no.”
My case was dismissed. If I had gotten an expunction, I would not have had to go through reliving my arrest every time I switched jobs.
In San Antonio, many people are offered deferred adjudication on obstruction of a highway instead of a DWI conviction. If you received deferred adjudication and successfully completed it, you may be eligible for an order of nondisclosure. Essentially, it lets you have your record sealed. It orders every agency with a record of your arrest not to release that information in most cases. This will prevent your arrest from showing up on most background checks with private employers or when applying for housing.
One last way that you may be able to have your record sealed if you have a DWI conviction. In 2017, the law was changed to allow people to receive an order of nondisclosure on a DWI if it was a first offense, the BAC on the case was not .15 or higher, and there was no accident in the case.
If you are being charged with a DWI or if have been charged with a DWI in the past, you may be able to keep it from showing up on background checks in the future and interfering with your life.