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Will a DWI / DUI Make You Fail a Background Check in Texas?

Ben Michael

There’s no getting around it. A DWI conviction carries weighty financial and time costs.

For instance, The Zebra reported that no individual road violation attracts a higher insurance premium than a DWI.

So, considering your career prospects,  you might wonder, “Will I fail a DWI background check?”

Texas does not expunge DWI charges automatically, even if a defendant got probation or other plea bargains.

But is there a way around this? Can you do something to turn things around in your favor?

Yes, you can.

But that’s if you have a skilled lawyer handling the case. Your attorney can help you get expungement or an Order of Nondisclosure. Read on to discover how to press the reset button on your DWI records and gain a fresh start.

Will a Texas DWI Show on a Background Check?

Wondering if your DWI will fail a background check in Texas?

Sadly, in most cases, yes.

But it depends on the events that followed a person’s DWI charge.

Texas maintains a lifelong record of a person’s DWI charges and convictions. However, if a judge dismissed the charge without probation, the defendant will be eligible for record removal through expunction.  

Moreover, defendants can get their DWI convictions sealed with a nondisclosure order if they meet the conditions.

What if My DWI Was Dismissed?

Dismissed DWI charges don’t appear in background checks if the case got dismissed without admission of guilt from the defendant and if the judge didn’t issue probation.

However, if you’re asking, “Will DWI fail background check if you’ve had deferred adjudication or been on probation?” here’s the thing:

Defendants with a second-time DWI whose first charge led to probation, deferred adjudication, or a conviction will have that first DWI on their record. In that case, a background check will reveal that criminal record. 

But a defendant might enjoy a clean slate if their first DWI got dismissed without probation, deferred adjudication, or a conviction.

How a DWI Can Affect Career Prospects

A DWI charge can have a life-altering influence on one’s career, even if the incident didn’t happen on the job. And at times, the impact might have implicit effects on the lives of other people close to the defendant.

For example, a nurse or health worker might lose their job or get a suspension from work if dealing with a DWI charge.

A truck driver or other transportation worker might face strict punishments for violating DWI laws. A teacher might have to stop teaching while attending their DWI court case.

Moreover, Texas is an at-will state.

This status empowers Texas employers to fire their staff without giving them any reasons. So, an employer can let an employee go if they have a DWI charge, probation, or conviction.

Even if an employee gets a dismissal, they only qualify for a record expunction after some years.

So a DWI arrest will stay on record for seven years under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but a conviction is inexpungible. Plus, employers prefer people without a criminal record.

Options for Getting a DWI Off Your Record

Texas State keeps a lifelong record of an offender’s DWI arrests, charges, and judgments.

For a state that keeps a permanent record of your wrongs, you might ask, “will a DWI fail background checks in all instances?”

The answer is yes if the defendant is on probation, got a deferred adjudication, or has a conviction.

But there are exceptions. It’s called record sealing.

We’ll discuss it in a bit.

But if you’ve managed to dismiss your first DWI charge, you can also dismiss a second and a third DWI and qualify for record deletion through expunction. In this case, you’ll not need record sealing.


Expungement is the process of destroying a criminal record, so it never appears on the offender’s name ad infinitum, even in a background check.

So, you might wonder, will DWI fail background check if the offender was a minor? What if they got a no-guilty verdict?

What qualifies for DWI expungement in Texas?

Charged as a Minor

Persons whose first and only DWI charge happened when they were minors can request records deletion as adults.

Case Dismissal

A defendant whose DWI case got a court dismissal can apply and qualify for records deletion and expungement as long as they were not convicted or granted probation. And this notion of “not convicted or granted probation” applies to shifted or reduced charges.

For instance, a defendant’s lawyer may be able to plead their charges down to a Class-C traffic violation such as speeding, failure to yield, or running a red light. So, the DWI charge that initiated the arrest would qualify for expunction if the accused person fulfills the dismissal requirements for their new, non-DWI charges.

However, a conviction for a “reduced” charge may render a defendant’s DWI charge in Texas inexpungible—including probation or other conviction from a plea deal.

Defendant With a “Not Guilty” Verdict

If you received a no-guilty verdict from a judge, your DWI arrest and charge might qualify for removal through expungement.

Record Sealing

Record sealing conceals an offender’s records from release to public agencies.

Inexpungible DWI charges may qualify for record sealing under the Texas DWI Second Chance law. For example, offenders who complete deferred adjudication probation without a conviction may be eligible to request record sealing.

Nondisclosure or record sealing does not hide case verdicts from licensing agencies, some government institutions, and criminal justice agencies. But will they fail a background check in Texas? No, you’re safe.

What if I Currently Face DWI Charges?

A favorable provision in the law does not guarantee or grant automatic access to the benefits of the provision. Instead, you must make a case that qualifies you for those benefits.

Yes, you can get a DWI case dismissal, expungement, nondisclosure, or reduced charges, but they won’t happen on their own.

You need a competent lawyer to win those legal provisions.

What if you had a lawyer fighting for you who had won 98% of more than 1000 DWI cases? A masterful litigator who is named among the American Institute of DWI Attorneys’ top ten.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain: Contact us for a free case review if a DWI charge stands in the way of your career growth and reputation.

Ben Michael

Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.

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