A new state law in Texas that goes into effect on September 1st will conceal DWI arrests from the records of some first-time offenders.
One DWI can have an enormous impact on someone's life, especially when it comes to employment. It's something Defense Attorney Kyle Hoelscher has seen numerous times.
"It shows right up on your background check. And so any employer, even if it's just for something that has nothing to do with driving, can look it up and see that DWI and reject you from a job," said Hoelscher.
Scenarios like that are what led to the passage of House Bill 3016.
The new law is particular on the type of person it will help. First, the person must have no prior convictions or have completed probation before, and the DWI case must not involve injuries or property damage. The offender also has to successfully complete a probation program. The blood alcohol level has to be between .08 and .14.
"Very low-level offenders," said Hoelscher. "It's just somebody who didn't realize they were slightly above the legal limit and they got pulled over for a traffic ticket."
If all the criteria are met, the person can apply for a non-disclosure, meaning that DWI arrest will be concealed.
"What this protects people from is third party background checks," said Hoelscher.
But that concealment doesn't happen right away. The law allows a person to apply for a non-disclosure two years after probation is complete if they had an ignition interlock in their vehicle for at least six months during that time period. If a person did not have the device installed, they have to wait five years to apply.
Some may think this sends the wrong message, being able to hide that DWI from employers. But Hoelscher disagrees, saying DWI punishments are so harsh many folks opt for the jail time just to get it over with. By giving people this new option by completing probation, which can include alcohol abuse classes, is actually more helpful to society.
"It's better to send a message to people that they should actually look at their problem and perhaps get treatment for their problem. And we all get to supervise them while they do it, the State of Texas," said Hoelscher. Source: kristv.com