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In Michigan, DUI (driving under the influence) is also known as OWI (operating while intoxicated or impaired), OUIL (operating under the influence of liquor), or OUID (operating under the influence of drugs). No matter what you call it, a drunk or drugged driving offense will have serious consequences, including jail time, fines, community service, and a criminal record. Fortunately, Michigan lawmakers have passed legislation that will make it easier for people with DUI convictions to move forward with their lives.

Starting in April 2021, first-time DUI offenders will be able to apply for expungement, a process that essentially removes an offense from one’s criminal record.

A Fresh Start for First-Time DUI Offenders

According to the Michigan Department of State Police’s annual drunk driving audit, over 32,000 people were convicted of DUI-related offenses in 2019. Depending on the severity of their charges, these people faced serious penalties ranging from days to months in jail, years in prison, hefty fines, increased insurance costs, driver’s license suspension, and more.

One collateral consequence of a DUI conviction is its presence on one’s driving record and criminal record. Before Michigan lawmakers passed this new legislation allowing for the expungement of first-time offenses, there was no recourse for offenders to have DUI convictions stricken from their records. For the rest of their lives, these 32,000 people and the tens of thousands of others before them would have faced futures with limited employment and educational opportunities.

Here are the highlights of the new DUI expungement legislation in Michigan:

  • Only first-time DUI offenders will be eligible for expungement.
  • DUI causing injury or death is ineligible for expungement.
  • Eligible first-time DUI offenders will need to file an application, at which point a judge will review the matter and determine whether to grant the expungement.
  • The waiting period to apply for expungement will range from three to seven years, depending on the specifics of the case.
  • Law enforcement will retain access to expunged DUI convictions.

Expungement opens doors that were once closed. Instead of dealing with the social stigma of having a DUI conviction, people can face brighter futures and honestly answer “no” when asked if they have criminal records. They will have opportunities that would have otherwise been unavailable with prior convictions on file.

Creating a Path for Community & Economic Involvement

People who have been convicted of first-time DUI and other criminal offenses deserve the opportunity to have these removed from their records. This opens the door to community involvement and complete participation in Michigan’s economy. People who have been rehabilitated can now apply for expungement—and some criminal records will even be removed automatically.

Michigan’s DUI expungement legislation was just a part of several bills passed at the end of 2020. In October, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that would automatically clear certain criminal convictions from public records, while also extending expungement eligibility for some offenders.

Hundreds of thousands of people will have a chance to build bright futures, free from the burden of having criminal records.

Are You Eligible? Talk to an Attorney About Your Options.

If you have a DUI conviction or any type of offense on your criminal record, you’re probably wondering whether you qualify to have your record cleared through expungement. As a Farmington Hills criminal defense attorney with nearly two decades of experience defending clients’ rights, I will be happy to answer your questions. I can help you understand more about your options under Michigan’s new DUI expungement laws and can handle your application if you’re eligible. You can count on my honesty, my knowledge, and my discretion.

To find out more about my firm and how I can help, give me a call at (248) 599-0054 today. I look forward to hearing from you.

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