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Can DUI Be Expunged in Texas?

From the Search Terms Files, the question that forms the title of this post: “Can a DUI be expunged in Texas?”

First: in most parts of the U.S., the crime of driving while one’s capacities are diminished by the ingestion of alcohol is described as DUI (driving under the influence). In Texas it’s DWI; “DUI” in Texas is the crime committed by a minor who drives with any alcohol in his system.

Next, the answer: a DWI arrest (rules for minor DUI are different) can be expunged only if you beat the case, that is, if you are acquitted, if the case is dismissed outright (with no probation), or if the charge is reduced to a class C misdemeanor and you successfully complete a class C misdemeanor deferred adjudication probation.

If you are convicted of DWI and pay a fine, or if you are convicted of DWI and take probation, the charge is on your public record till the crack of doom. There is, by statute, no deferred adjudication for DWI in Texas.

Likewise, if (as happens regularly in some counties other than Harris County) the charge is changed to some other class B misdemeanor (typically obstructing a roadway or reckless driving) and you are convicted, the record of your DWI arrest remains forever.

If the charge is changed to another class B and you plead guilty and take deferred adjudication probation, the record of your DWI arrest remains forever, but it may be possible to seal it from public view with a petition for nondisclosure.

If the charge is reduced to a class C misdemeanor and you plead guilty and pay a fine, the record of your DWI arrest remains forever (unless you are a minor and the class C is a DUI, in which case special expunction rules apply).

So: want that DWI that you picked up over Independence Day weekend off your record? You’d better be prepared to fight it.

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