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‘Second chance’ shield becomes law

  • By Jasmine C. Johnson, Rockwall Herald-Banner
Rockwall attorney Ashley Anderson wants to help first-time DWI offenders get a second chance under House Bill 3016. Photo by: Meredith Joyce
Rockwall attorney Ashley L. Anderson is on a mission to help Texans shield first-time criminal convictions, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI), as a result of the Texas Legislature passing House Bill 3016 also known as the ‘Second Chance’ law. The new law enables first-time DWI offenders to seal criminal records from public view including potential employers.Anderson said the bill gives people with a prior DWI conviction an opportunity they never had before. Prior to Sept. 1, they have never been able to seal this offense from their record.

“I don’t think someone should be saddled with the burden of having to disclose a DWI conviction for the rest of their life,” she said. “It didn’t matter if it happened five years ago or 20 years ago, they still would not be able to seal it prior to House Bill 3016. Now they have that opportunity.

The ‘Second Chance’ law is retroactive, but petitioners must meet strict criteria. Only first-time offenders with low-level, non-violent criminal histories can apply. For a DWI offense to be eligible, blood alcohol content must be at .14 percent or less, and no accidents or injuries can be involved.

Anderson said the new law is very fact intensive. The lawyer would have to pull the petitioner’s criminal history and look into the facts of his or her case. Depending on the facts of the case will determine if he or she is eligible for the offense to be sealed and how many years he or she would have to wait for it to be sealed.

Anderson added that the interesting thing about DWI is that there were so many other crimes that could get sealed such as terroristic threats, theft, deceptive business practices, harassment and a lot of other crimes employers would want to know.

“There are so many other crimes that people would imagine are worse than DWI and those are able to get sealed from your record, but not a DWI,” she said.

Anderson said it’s important for Rockwall County residents to be aware of the new law and know that they can receive a second-chance for a one-time mistake.

“A lot of people have kind of resigned themselves to the fact that they have this on their record and don’t know that it can now be sealed,” she said.

“I want to get the word out. And I’m an attorney so I’m happy to help people through the process to get it done.”

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