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Flint, Michigan

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Michigan closer to passing DUI expungement bill

Car key and beer glass on a wooden pub counter.

Michigan's House has approved a new DUI expungement bill that they are hoping the governor won't reject this time.

The bill amends the state's laws in regards to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, otherwise known as OWI or DUI.

If it wins final approval, people found guilty of first-offense OWI could apply to have their conviction removed or "expunged" from record after 5 years.

The House approved the bill in late May. The bill will now return to the Senate for final approval before it reaches the governor’s desk.

She can choose to sign it into law — or not. It is not clear whether this bill has the governor's support.

The last time state legislators drafted a DUI expungement law, Governor Gretchen Whitmer let the deadline for signing the bill lapse.

By not taking action, the governor killed the bill by pocket veto. It is not clear why she declined to sign the bill after approving of other recent expungement measures.

Criminal records can affect a person long after they've completed their sentences.

Carrying around the weight of past charges limits job opportunities and housing, among other things. Trying to build a life with a criminal record hanging over your head is like a second sentence that no judge will admit they've ordered.

Hope for first-time DUI offenders

If the bill is approved, the chance to have your record cleared would not apply to everyone. For instance, drunk drivers who cause serious injuries or death would not be eligible for expungement.

A first-time offender could apply for expungement after whichever of these events happens last:

  • The start of the sentence
  • Completion of probation
  • Discharged from parole
  • Completion of imprisonment

In 2020, with the governor's support, Michigan passed a bipartisan Clean Slate bill.

The new laws went into effect in April 2021 and automatically remove some criminal misdemeanor and felony convictions from public view after a certain time, while also expanding who can apply to have their records expunged.

People convicted of driving under the influence were excluded from the new law, as were people found guilty of violent or "dishonest" crimes.

Expungements aren't guaranteed in Michigan. There's an application process and you have to prove to the state that they should remove the conviction.

If you want your record cleared, it is a good idea to hire a criminal defense lawyer who has a deep understanding of Michigan law and culture.

Criminal records hold millions of people back

Estimates suggest more than 65 million Americans have criminal records that are preventing them from creating comfortable, stable lives.

It's important for people to have their records expunged, or cleared, so that they can reach their goals. Studies have shown time and again that criminal records hold people back from earning decent wages.

Criminal records can hurt people who have already completed their sentences by:

  • Barring them from accessing some public assistance programs.
  • Making it difficult to find employment — about 60% of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed one year after their release.
  • Allowing entry to only low-wage jobs. People with criminal records tend to earn 40%  less pay than people with clean slates.
  • Destroying their ability to get some types of insurance policies.

Moreover, if you try to hide your conviction from an employer and they find out, they can take legal action against you.

Being convicted of DUI comes with serious penalties in Michigan.

Someone being charged as a first-time offender faces up to $500 in fines, 93 days in jail, and 360 hours of community service.

Your driver's license could also be suspended for 30 days and restricted for 150 days. The punishment is harsher if your BAC (blood alcohol content) was 0.17 or higher at the time of your arrest.

People charged with their third DUI and/or allegedly caused an accident that resulted in death or serious injury could face up to 15 years of imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.

With so much at stake, it's smart to seek legal help

If you've been charged with DUI in the Flint or greater central Michigan region, don't leave your future up to chance. These are serious charges, and you need to treat them as such.

You need a DUI defense lawyer who knows what it takes to get charges reduced or dropped.

At Manley & Manley, we have more than 70 years of combined legal experience. Our law firm has a deep understanding of Michigan law and what legal standards apply to your unique circumstances.

Our attorneys will be aggressive in the pursuit of the best possible outcome of your case. Attorney Michael Manley is one of the very few Board-Certified Criminal Trial Experts in Central Michigan. And attorney Frank Manley is known by his clients and friends as "The Shark" because he's a fighter who never quits.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We will go over the details of your charges and weigh your best legal options. A DUI conviction can negatively impact your life — and the lives of your loved ones and dependents — for years after you've completed your sentence. This is no time to take a risk. Call or email us right now.

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