How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?

How long does a DWI stay on your record in Texas?

Despite what you've probably heard, you may not be stuck with your DWI forever. With the right circumstances (and the right legal help), you may be able to seal your DWI so no one can see it—even if they run a background check on you. 

But this isn't an option for everyone.

We've put together this guide to help you understand how long a DWI sticks around and how/when you can get it removed, so make sure you keep reading below!

What's the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?

DUIs and DWIs are very similar. (In fact, they're so similar some states use these terms interchangeably for the same charge).

Here's the main difference:

A DUI, which stands for driving under the influence, refers to someone who was driving a car while impaired by alcohol. A DWI, which stands for driving while intoxicated, refers to someone who was driving a car while impaired by any other substance other than alcohol, such as recreational or prescription drugs. 

But that doesn't mean you can't get a DWI for driving under the influence of alcohol. It just depends on where you live and the specifics of your situation. 

What Happens When You're Convicted of a DWI?

After you get convicted of a DWI (not just charged—proven guilty in court), it will go on your record. Now anyone who runs a background check on you, including employers or landlords, can see the DWI. 

Since a DWI is a criminal charge, it can make finding a job or a place to live much more difficult. 

An employer can refuse to hire you because of it (or if they discover it later, they may be able to fire you). A landlord can choose to keep you out of their property if they see this type of charge on your record. 

How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?

Once a DWI gets on your record, it will pretty much stay there forever. There are a few exceptions (which we'll cover below), but for the most part, you won't be able to get rid of your DWI if you live in Texas.  

Can You Get Rid of a DWI in Texas?

Until 2017, there was no way to remove a DWI from your record at all. However, a new law signed into effect in 2017 allows certain people to get their DWI taken off their record. 

But this doesn't work for everyone. 

You have to meet very specific criteria, and you can't get it right away. In order to meet the right requirements, you'll have to live with the DWI on your record for at least two years. 

Here's a quick look at how you can get your DWI "erased" in Texas. 

Expunged 

If your DWI is expunged, it will completely disappear. It will never touch your record, so no one (no matter who they are) will be able to see it. Ever. 

But you can only get your DWI expunged if you aren't convicted of it in the first place. 

There are a few ways to do this. 

First of all, you can prove you were wrongly charged with a DWI. If you can show the court you weren't driving, you may be ruled innocent and be able to leave the DWI behind. 

If you can't prove your innocence, you may be able to get the DWI reduced to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. While you'll still end up with a mark on your record, it won't be a criminal charge, and it won't hold the same weight as a DWI. 

Sealed 

If you do end up with a DWI, you may be able to get it sealed. This means the DWI conviction will be "hidden." Employers, landlords, or anyone else who gives you a background check won't see it pop up. 

Keep in mind, though, sealing a DWI doesn't make it disappear for good. There are still certain people, such as some specific government workers, who will be able to see your DWI, but most people won't be able to find it. 

Not everyone can get their DWI sealed. You have to meet the following requirements: 

  • The DWI is your first offense 
  • You served your sentence, such as paying fines, getting your license suspended, or even jail time 
  • Any court fees are paid off 
  • Your BAC (or blood alcohol concentration) was under 0.15 
  • You have finished the mandated two-year (or longer) waiting period 

You also can't get your DWI sealed if you have been convicted of any other type of crime, related to driving or not. However, if you meet these qualifications, you may be able to seal your DWI, which will make your life much easier. 

How to Find the Right Legal Help

So how long does a DWI stay on your record in Texas?

Depending on your circumstances, maybe forever. However, if you live in Texas and want to get your DWI sealed, you shouldn't attempt to do it alone. The process can be complicated or overwhelming if you don't understand the legal terms, requirements, documents, etc. 

Because of this, you should always hire a lawyer to walk you through it. 

Not sure where to look?

Our law firm has you covered. Don't hesitate to get in touch with our legal team today to learn more about your DWI options. 

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.