Michigan’s New Expungement Laws Is a Relief to DUI Offenders
People deserve second chances: This might be what the majority of members in Michigan’s House and Senate thought of when passing the ‘Clean Slate’ legislation. The House Bills, which were signed to law on August 23, 2021, by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, make provisions to expunge criminal records for thousands of people with some felony and misdemeanor convictions.
Further relief is offered in allowing automatic expungement of some offenses, meaning one will not need to apply for the same. But this provision will be operative from April 2023. We have discussed the law in-depth, including the provision affecting marijuana offenses. Read on.
Thanks to a bipartisan effort, DUI expungement can take place in Michigan. The rest of this article will cover how to get an a DUI conviction removed from your record in Michigan.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer on August 23, 2021, signed House Bills 4219 and 4220. This bills will allow an estimated 200,000 people with one (1) drunk driving conviction to seek to eliminate it from their criminal record.
What is Expungement?
Expungement of a criminal record is the complete ‘destruction’ of one’s criminal records. Expungement is different from ‘sealing.’
Sealing a record means the record still exists but is not available to the public. When one searches for your criminal record (especially employment or insurance background checks), and it was ‘sealed,’ they will find it but not have access to it. However, when a criminal record is expunged, there will be no trace of it.
Expungement provides much-needed protection to convicted offenders. HB 4980 states that “A conviction, including any records relating to the conviction and any records concerning a collateral action, that has been set aside under this act cannot be used as evidence in an action for negligent hiring, admission, or licensure against any person.”
Who Can Expunge Their Record?
While there are a few exceptions, anyone who was convicted of one (1) DUI conviction in Michigan is now eligible to apply for expungement. The only catch is that a person must wait at least five years since their probationary period is over before they can successfully apply to have their DUI removed from their record.
The latest bills provide guidance for judges to consider before granting a DUI expungement. The Judge must consider whether you’ve benefited from rehabilitative/educational programs. The Judge needs to look over your criminal record and see how many criminal convictions have been added to your record since your DUI conviction.
The new law is a win for first-time DUI offenders. According to the new laws, the following convictions can be expunged:
- Driving with a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08 for anyone above 21 years
- For people 21 years or younger, driving with a blood alcohol content at or above 0.02.
- Driving while visually impaired due to any substance.
We need to reiterate the fact that expungement only applies to first-time DUI offenders.
What Doesn’t Qualify for DUI Expungement Michigan?
If you have more than one DUI conviction on your record, you are not able to get your drunk driving charge expunged. If you have a DUI conviction that caused death or serious injury your DUI is not able to be erased from your record. If you have a DUI that happened when you were driving a vehicle commercially, a CDL license, you are not able at this moment to your your drunk driving conviction taken off your record. If you have a “Child Endangerment” also known as OWI with child under 16 in the car, this type of DUI is also one that does not qualify for DUI Expungement in Michigan.
What Felonies and Misdemeanors are Expungable in Michigan?
Before the new laws came into effect, expungement of criminal records was impossible for an offender with more than one felony and two misdemeanors.
According to the new law, a person with more than one criminal offense, but less than three felonies, can apply for expungement for all their offenses.
Are all Offences Expungable?
In a bid to protect the criminal justice system, the laws put a cap on the type of offenses that are expungable.
One important thing to note here is you must not have more than three (3) felonies; if they exceed 3, you are not eligible. But that’s not the end of it. Other disqualifying factors according to HB 4219 include:
- Having more than one felony conviction of an offense that is punishable by more than 10 years.
- Committing more than 2 assaults or any violent crimes of which you are convicted.
When Can One Apply for Expungement of Their Records?
For an offense to be set aside, you must convince the court that your conviction deserves an expungement. However, some offenses are automatically set aside.
At what point can one start the application?
- When you want the sentence to be set aside
- After you complete your probation or are discharged from parole
- After you complete your sentence.
There is a time limit set for when an expungement application can be made. If you were convicted for more than one felony, you would have to wait for 7 or more years. For a single felony, the waiting period is 5 years; the same applies to one or more serious misdemeanors. For a crime involving assault or other not-so-serious misdemeanors, you will need to wait for 3 years before making the application.
When about an Automatic Expungement?
The law, rightly so, provides for automatic expungement of not more than 2 felonies and 4 misdemeanors in one’s lifetime. The law does not provide for crimes that will be automatically expunged. It does, however, list crimes that cannot be automatically expunged: So if you are convicted of a crime other than that provided by the law, you’ll be eligible.
What crimes cannot be automatically expunged?
- Serious misdemeanors
- Crimes that involve dishonest behavior, e.g., fraud
- Crimes committed by adults against minors, e.g., criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
- Crimes involving serious harm or death to the victims.
- Assaultive crimes
- Felonies where one can be sentenced to more than 10 years imprisonment
- Human trafficking
- For the automatic expungement to be successful, the person should NOT BE CONVICTED of any crime IN THE WAITING PERIOD. The waiting period ranges from 7-10 years.
- HB 4980 states that: “This act does not relieve any obligation to pay restitution owed to the victim of a crime nor does it affect the jurisdiction of the convicting court or the authority of any court order with regard to enforcing an order for restitution.” An automatic expungement does not relieve the offender from their obligations to pay court-ordered restitution. If you fail to pay restitution, the expunged charges may be reinstated.
Do DUI Convictions Qualify for Automatic Expungement?
No, they do not. However, you should note that the 7-year waiting period will still apply. It will be more beneficial to apply for an expungement rather than wait for the 7 years to lapse. NOTE: You should not be arrested for a DUI offence in the waiting period. Any subsequent conviction will not be expunged. You need to retain Attorney Shawn Haff to get your DUI expungement removed for your record.
Why Should I Expunge My DUI Conviction?
Not having a criminal record is better than having one. DUI expungement recipients enjoy clear benefits of a spotless criminal record, these benefits are:
- Better Housing
- Lower Insurance Rates
- Higher Wages
- Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Eligibility
- Access to Student Loans
These are great benefits, but many people who qualify do not apply for the benefit. It is possible for one to have multiple offenses (including DUI offences) that occur in 24 hours to be treated as one. However, the crimes should be as a result of the same circumstances for the application to succeed. This is why you will need a qualified, experienced, and trusted attorney on your corner: That is Attorney Shawn Haff of The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan. Other than helping clients apply for expungement, we do provide legal defense services for people arrested for DUI offences. Call our toll free 616-438-6719 to book a consultation with us, and we can discuss your case and forge a way forward when it comes to your DUI Expungement in Michigan.