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New Law Enables Texans to Seal DUI Records

Texas residents with DUI records might soon be able to seal their records. House Bill 3016, also known as the “second-chance” bill, will allow many first-time, low-level offenders to keep their criminal records from being made public. This makes it easier for people to apply for jobs if they have low-level offenses on their records and have shown that they are unlikely to reoffend.

In addition to DUI defendants, the bill protects people convicted of some felonies involving small amounts of marijuana. Eligible individuals can petition the court for orders of nondisclosure, and the bill alters some waiting periods. If the offense was a misdemeanor punishable only by a fine, the petitioner may request an order of nondisclosure immediately upon the date their sentence is completed. If the misdemeanor was not punishable by a fine only, however, they must wait until the second anniversary of the date of the completion of their sentence to petition the court.

In May, the bill cleared the House and was passed by the Senate. The bill’s House sponsor, Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat from Houston, said that low-level offenders should not have to be punished beyond the penalties administered in court. Once the penalty is over, she said, the individual has fulfilled his or her obligations and deserves to be given an opportunity to reintegrate into society, with a job and a place to live.

In the Senate, the bill was amended to exclude crimes with a violent or sexual component from being eligible for seal. Senate Sponsor Bryan Hughes, a Republican from Mineola, indicated that the amendment resulted from negotiations with an array of groups spanning “the political gamut.”

In a recent op-ed, current U.S. Energy Secretary and former Texas governor Rick Perry supported the bill. He said HB 3016 is well-crafted because it only applies to certain first-time offenders after they have proven they can follow the law, and it continues to allow law enforcement to use the sealed crime like any other prior conviction if there is a subsequent offense. He called the bill a “smart, balanced, and conservative approach” to tackle the issue of trying to find housing and a job with a criminal record. Perry concluded the op-ed by saying that while he was initially wary of the criminal justice reforms proposed while he was governor, he ultimately understood the benefits of treating the underlying causes of criminal behavior in lieu of simply locking up alleged offenders.

Perry also wrote about Senate Bill 1424, which would originally have enabled suspects’ lawyers to be present during grand jury interrogations and prevented prosecutors from going to another grand jury if the first declined to indict (with an exception if there is new evidence). The Senate approved an amended version of the bill that would require prosecutors to receive judicial approval before bringing a case back to a grand jury.

Perry’s public support of the two measures appears at odds with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ May 10 memo directing prosecutors to pursue harsh sentences. In the memo, Sessions told prosecutors to pursue mandatory minimums, a policy that contravenes Obama-era practices.

Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 3016 on June 15, 2017. The law becomes effective on September 1.

HB 3016 now allows a person convicted of a first-time DUI offense with a BAC of less than 0.15 to petition for an order of non-disclosure of criminal history associated with that offense. However, certain criteria must be satisfied for an individual to be eligible to petition for non-disclosure:  (1) the individual must have never been convicted of  another offense (excluding offenses punishable by a fine only); (2) the individual must have completed any term of confinement or community supervision; (3) the individual must have paid all costs and restitution; and (4) the waiting period must have elapsed.

If you have been charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation to people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses and representing drivers with revoked licenses before the Illinois Secretary of State. To learn more, and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 217.525.0520.

More Blog Posts:

Hawaii Supreme Court Holds a DUI Suspect May Not Be Preemptively Refused the Opportunity to Communicate with Counsel, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, July 3, 2017.

Illinois Appeals Court Upholds Ruling for DUI Defendant Based on Officer’s Unconvincing Testimony, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, June 5, 2017.

Colorado Supreme Court Upholds Express Consent Statute, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, June 1, 2017.

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