The Texas Second Chance Law for First-Time Offenders

Posted on Feb 12, 2018 by Todd Ver Weire

An arrest, let alone a conviction, can haunt you for the rest of your life. It’s more than just a shadow that looms over you because an arrest can have serious repercussions that affect not just you personally, but your career and your family, too.

Poor decisions can have the power to uproot things you’ve worked hard for, but a recent reform in Texas’s criminal justice system is changing the way the repercussions of a first-time DWI conviction.

What is Texas ‘Second Chance Law’?

House Bill 3016, or as many call it: Texas ‘second chance law’, is legislation that was passed and signed into law late last year and now expands the non-disclosure aspects of Texas’s deferred adjudication law to first time DWI offenders.  To qualify, one must meet the following requirements:

  • This is your first DWI conviction
  • Not have any other criminal convictions, then this DWI; however, minor traffic offenses that are punishable by a fine only are NOT a disqualifying event
  • You successfully completed your sentence and paid all fines and court costs
  • If you were placed on deferred adjudication for a violent crime or a crime that requires sex offender registration, then you are NOT eligible.
  • Have a Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of less than .15, if the BAC was greater than or equal to .15, and your conviction indicates that your BAC was greater than or equal to .15, you are not eligible
  • The offense was NOT for flying while intoxicated or boating while intoxicated
  • If there was an accident with someone in your car, or you hit another individual, you are NOT eligible – if you hit a tree and were alone in your car, you may be eligible
  • The judge determines that it is in the best interest of justice to grant the non-disclosure.

How Does The Texas Second Chance Law Benefit Those Eligible?

Not only does it encourage first-time offenders to pay their dues to their society, it also affords them the opportunity for future employment and doesn’t limit them to jobs that don’t consider or count convictions against a candidate. The Texas second chance law keeps an entire world of opportunities open for those who have made a one-time mistake. While law enforcement and state and federal licensing agencies will have access to the conviction and records, private employers will not.

The impact of a DWI charge in Texas means offenders seeking employment where they may possibly have to operate a vehicle becomes unlikely. Although an applicant may have an attractive resume and employment history, selecting someone whilst knowing of a prior DWI conviction suddenly becomes a risk many potential employers aren’t willing to take.

The other nice thing about this law is that it applies to DWI convictions that are even 10 or 15 years old.  So, if you happen to have a conviction from way back, and stayed out of trouble other than a speeding ticket or two, don’t let your past mistake continue to plague you. Take advantage of the Texas Second Chance Law and seal your past from potential employers.

When facing a DWI charge, you must act immediately because these cases involve both a criminal and an administrative/civil component. Many people focus solely on the criminal case and forego the administrative parts, which can cause further complications. Also, the administrative hearing affords one a chance to peak at the evidence and nail down the testimony of any law enforcement officers involved with the stop.  If you’ve been arrested for a DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.