Unpacking Duration: How Long Does a DWI Charge Stay on Your Record in Texas?

A DWI charge in Texas can permanently mark your record. But, how long does a DWI stay on your record in Texas, and are there ways to mitigate its impact? This article outlines strategies like expungement and non-disclosure that reveal not all hope is lost; read on to understand the true duration of a DWI on your record and how you might be able to clean the slate.

Key Takeaways


  • A DWI conviction in Texas carries significant personal and professional consequences, including potential career and housing impacts, increased car insurance rates, and strained social relationships.

  • Texans have options to mitigate the effects of a DWI arrest on their records, such as expungement, nondisclosure orders, or deferred adjudication, but these remedies have specific eligibility criteria and do not apply universally.

  • Preventing a DWI conviction is critical and involves making responsible choices regarding alcohol consumption and transportation, and hiring an experienced DWI defense lawyer for those already facing charges to protect rights and seek favorable outcomes.

DWI Convictions: The Lifelong Impact

car keys

A DWI conviction in Texas significantly impacts your life, akin to throwing a stone in a pond – the ripples spread far and wide. You might think a DWI conviction merely means a slap on the wrist and a steep fine. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The insidious effects permeate every facet of your life, from your career trajectory to your personal relationships.

A DWI conviction, which is a type of criminal conviction, on your criminal record can have serious consequences, including:

  • Acting as a roadblock to career advancement, potentially hampering job prospects and damaging your professional reputation because of the associated stigma and your criminal history

  • Affecting your ability to obtain housing

  • Straining social relationships

These personal and professional implications make it crucial to avoid a DWI conviction.

Consequences of a DWI Conviction

Immediately after a DWI conviction, you may find yourself in a storm of legal consequences. As soon as the verdict is delivered, license suspension often stands as one of the first penalties you face. The road doesn’t end there. A DWI conviction sends your car insurance rates skyrocketing, and you might even run the risk of policy cancellation.

Imagine seeing your car insurance rates balloon by an average of 50% post-DWI conviction, with rates in Texas leaping from $2,019 to a whopping $3,026 for full coverage. In such circumstances, drivers might be compelled to engage with high-risk insurers, leading to even loftier premiums. Meanwhile, professional repercussions unfold. Licensing boards may impose disciplinary actions, including fines, mandatory treatment programs, or a probationary status, further tarnishing one’s professional standing.

Future Implications

A single DWI offense is a serious matter, but multiple DWI convictions? That’s when you’re really in hot water. A first DWI offense in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor, a second offense elevates to a Class A misdemeanor, and a third offense escalates to a felony, each accompanied by increasing penalties. The financial burden of a DWI grows exponentially with repeat offenses, with Texas imposing a Driver Responsibility Tax that increases with each subsequent offense.

Repeat DWI offenses can lead to additional serious charges such as intoxication assault or manslaughter, which come with higher fines and longer prison terms. The consequences of multiple DWI convictions compile to a substantial impact on future legal situations, casting a long shadow with the potential for escalated penalties and additional severe charges, including criminal convictions.

Options for Addressing Your DWI Record

If you have a DWI on your Texas driving record, while it may be intimidating, it’s not a dead-end. Multiple options are available to address your DWI record. These include expungement, sealing through nondisclosure, and deferred adjudication – each with their own specific eligibility requirements and processes.

An expungement can wipe the slate clean, erasing the DWI from your record entirely, ensuring you don’t have a criminal record forever. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this option is only viable if you meet specific eligibility criteria for getting your DWI expunged.

On the other hand, nondisclosure doesn’t erase the DWI but shields it from public view, providing some relief from the negative implications of a DWI conviction.

Legal documents with a 'sealed' stamp

Expungement of a DWI Charge

For those battling a DWI charge on their record, expungement can be seen as a beacon of hope at the end of a long tunnel. However, it’s not a universal solution. In Texas, expungement is available only for DWI charges where there was no conviction, including cases resulting in an acquittal, a case dismissal, or a ‘no bill’ by the grand jury.

The process of expungement requires:

  • Filing a petition for expunction

  • If successful, it effectively erases the DWI arrest as if it never occurred

  • Although this process involves various fees, the freedom of a clean record and the potential benefits for your personal and professional life often outweigh the costs

  • And the good news? There is no waiting period to expunge a DWI arrest record for adults in cases resolved without a conviction, allowing individuals to file for expunction immediately.

Sealing a DWI Conviction through Nondisclosure

If expungement is off the table, having your DWI conviction sealed through nondisclosure might be your next best option. This process involves filing a petition, attending a hearing, and obtaining a court order that restricts your conviction from public view, effectively keeping your court record private and preventing a criminal background check from revealing your DWI conviction, allowing you to maintain a clean record forever.

But what does sealing a conviction really mean? Once a nondisclosure order is obtained, it restricts government agencies from releasing offense details to unauthorized entities, though the record remains visible to law enforcement and government entities. Sealing your DWI conviction can:

  • Prevent the record from being publicly visible

  • Aid in employment

  • Help with professional licensing

  • Maintain a favorable credit score

The assistance of a seasoned DWI defense attorney can be a game-changer in this process, helping you navigate the legal intricacies and increase the likelihood of success.

Deferred Adjudication and Its Effects

While deferred adjudication may seem like complex legal language, it can be a lifeline for those aiming to sidestep a formal DWI conviction. Deferred adjudication in Texas is a form of probation that allows a person to avoid a formal conviction for a DWI if they comply with the terms set by the court.

Completion of deferred adjudication results in the dismissal of charges. However, eligibility often depends on certain factors such as not having a collision, having a blood alcohol concentration below 0.15 percent, and it being the individual’s first DWI offense. Even after successful completion, the record doesn’t automatically disappear; it remains until sealed through a non-disclosure order filed by an attorney.

During the period of deferred adjudication, also known as a dwi stay, individuals are subject to court supervision and regular drug testing; failure to comply can result in revocation and potential sentencing to the maximum penalty for the DWI charge.

Preventing a DWI from Affecting Your Life

A DWI charge isn’t inevitable; it can be prevented. And key to this prevention is a two-pronged approach: hiring a skilled DWI defense lawyer and making safe, responsible choices regarding alcohol consumption and transportation to avoid reckless driving.

A seasoned DWI defense lawyer can be your greatest ally, providing expertise to enhance the chances of a favorable outcome. The lawyer’s in-depth knowledge of the legal system can work towards minimizing the impact of the charge, such as negotiating for reduced penalties or pursuing case dismissal based on evidentiary or procedural issues.

Person consulting with a DWI defense lawyer

Hiring a DWI Defense Lawyer

If you’re facing a DWI charge in Texas, it’s crucial to act swiftly, and reaching out to a DWI defense lawyer should be your first move. A seasoned lawyer can:

  • Ensure your rights are protected

  • Help you understand the legal process

  • Gather evidence to build a strong defense

  • Negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or penalties

  • Represent you in court if necessary

By hiring a DWI defense lawyer, you can increase your chances of a favorable outcome in your case.

These legal experts possess in-depth knowledge of the evidence required in DWI arrests and the procedural requirements of the Texas legal system. This allows them to challenge the evidence and prevent unjust outcomes. An attorney experienced in DWI cases can expedite the legal process, helping defendants avoid common legal pitfalls, and achieve potentially quicker case resolutions.

Working with a skilled DWI defense attorney can:

  • Mitigate the long-term personal and professional ramifications of a DWI arrest

  • Provide a strong defense strategy

  • Lead to lighter sentences or avoided entries in criminal records.

Safe and Responsible Choices

While a DWI defense lawyer can navigate the choppy legal waters, prevention is the best strategy. Making informed choices about alcohol consumption and transportation can significantly reduce the likelihood of a DWI and its associated consequences.

To reduce alcohol absorption and make responsible choices when drinking, follow these tips:

  • Limit your alcohol intake and eat properly before drinking.

  • If you’re planning to drink, opt for a designated driver.

  • Use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.

  • Consider taking public transportation.

These decisions not only protect you from a DWI charge but also contribute to safer roads for everyone.

Navigating the Legal Process: How a DWI Attorney Can Help

Navigating the legal maze of a DWI charge can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. A DWI attorney can:

  • Guide you through the process

  • Evaluate your case

  • Develop a defense strategy

  • Work towards reducing or eliminating charges.

A DWI attorney can provide the following benefits:

  • Crucial insight into your legal options

  • Assistance in developing an effective strategy to combat DWI charges

  • Expertise to help protect professional licenses

  • Ability to reduce the duration of the charge on your record.

Legal team discussing defense strategy

Case Evaluation and Defense Strategy

Ashley Morgan does more than just advocate for you in court. She conduct a detailed evaluation of your case, meticulously examining the circumstances of the traffic stop to verify its legality and defend against any potential infringement of constitutional rights.

Developing a defense strategy involves disputing the evidence, using constitutional defenses, and protecting trial rights, such as the right to a jury trial. Ashley Morgan will utilize additional evidence like camera footage and employ cross-examination techniques to find inconsistencies in officer or witness testimonies.

Reducing or Eliminating Charges

A DWI charge can feel like a concrete block tied to your ankle, but a DWI attorney can help lighten the load. Through their legal expertise, they can advocate for the reduction or dismissal of charges to prevent lifelong criminal records.

Prosecutors in Texas may agree to reduce a Class A DWI misdemeanor to a Class B, or waive the enhancement in an enhanced offense, often as part of a plea bargain. DWI charges can be dismissed in court if the defense presents compelling arguments that undermine the state’s case. The ability of a DWI attorney to negotiate for charge reductions or secure dismissals is grounded in their comprehensive understanding of Texas DWI law and meticulous approach to challenging the prosecution’s evidence. Ashley Morgan goes after the State’s evidence to get the best outcome for the her clients.


In the grand scheme of life, a DWI conviction in Texas doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Yes, the implications are serious, and the effects can reverberate through your personal and professional life. But with knowledge comes power. Understanding your legal options, including expungement, nondisclosure, and deferred adjudication, can help mitigate these effects. Hiring a seasoned DWI defense attorney and making safe, responsible choices can help prevent a DWI from affecting your life. Remember, it’s not just about navigating the aftermath of a DWI charge; it’s about steering clear of one in the first place.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a DWI stay on your background check in Texas?

A DWI stays on your record permanently in Texas unless it is expunged or sealed. This means that it will show up on any criminal background check run on you by employers or landlords.

Can you get a DWI off your record Texas?

No, in Texas, you cannot get a DWI conviction expunged from your record. The only way to have a DWI arrest expunged is if it was dismissed or if you were found not guilty at trial.

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

A DWI conviction can affect your car insurance in Texas for at least three years, and possibly longer. Your future rates will depend on various factors such as your age, gender, driving record, and insurance provider.

What is the lookback period for a DWI in Texas?

In Texas, there is no look-back limitation for DWI offenses. This means that a DWI from 20 years ago would still count as a prior offense for enhanced penalties.