Second chance law gives some first-time DWI offenders new options

Some first-time DWI offenders will have a second chance thanks to a law passed by Texas legislators in 2017.

The law would allow for certain first time DWI offenders to have their public records sealed.

“I think it's a good step in the right direction for people who make a one-time mistake,” Sam Bassett, a criminal defense attorney in Austin said.

Bassett said many of his DWI clients could benefit from having their conviction sealed out of the view of the public.

“If it's publicly accessible, certain types of jobs, you're automatically eliminated from consideration. Jobs involving transportation, jobs involving children things such as that, anything related to public safety,” he said.

But there are some catches. The law applies to first time offenders, with .14 blood alcohol content or less, there was no accident and no one was hurt. The person still has to go through a probationary period and after that is over they can apply for the non-disclosure. If they put an ignition interlock on for six months it can be quicker, something MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving is in support of. They took to their Facebook, back in June thanking Governor Greg Abbott for "Providing more incentives for convicted drunk drivers to put an ignition interlock on their vehicle."

The law won't wipe records clean and law enforcement will still be able to see DWI's so they will know if a someone is a repeat offender. ‘

Bassett said while most of his clients are young first and last time offenders, having a non-disclosure option will help keep them on the right track.

“The current change is probably a recognition based on a lot of people saying look I made a one-time mistake and this is how it affected me trying to get a job or trying to get into a certain school. I think the law is recognition that at some point a one-time mistake on a misdemeanor DWI should be taken off the public view."

The new law goes into effect September of 2017.

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