22 Nov 2023 John Engman & Associates Criminal Defense Attorney November 22, 2023 John Engman & Associates Convicted of a DUI? Check out our Grand Rapids DUI Expungement Services! In August 2021, Michigan took a significant step towards giving individuals a fresh start with the enactment of the ‘Clean Slate’ bill. With an overwhelming majority of support from Michigan’s House and Senate members, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law House Bills 4219 and 4220, ushering in an era of hope for thousands with felony and misdemeanor records, as well as those burdened with a DUI conviction. This groundbreaking legislation, effective April 2023, introduces the possibility of automatic expungement for certain offenses and offers a path to clear one’s criminal record. At John Engman & Associates, we’ve thoroughly examined the legislation, particularly the provisions concerning DUI convictions. If you’ve ever wondered about the potential to expunge your DUI record in Michigan, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and the necessary information to navigate this transformative opportunity. Discover how the law works, who qualifies for expungement, and the numerous benefits it can bring into your life. These bills will allow nearly 200,000 people with one DUI drunk driving conviction to seek for it to be removed from their record through a DUI Expungement. Additional relief is provided by permitting automatic expungement of certain offenses, eliminating the need to apply. However, this clause will take effect in April 2023. At John Engman & Associates, we’ve gone over the law in detail, particularly the section dealing with DUI convictions. DUI expungement is now possible in Michigan, thanks to a bipartisan initiative. Contact us, and we will explain how to have a DUI conviction in Michigan expunged from your record. What Does Expungement Mean? The total ‘destruction’ of one’s criminal record is known as expungement. Expungement is not the same as ‘sealing.’ A sealed record still exists but is not accessible to the public. When someone searches for your criminal record (particularly for a job or insurance background checks), they will find it. Still, they will not have access to it because it was ‘sealed.’ However, a wiped criminal record means no trace of it remains. Who Can Expunge Their Record? Anyone with one DUI conviction in Grand Rapids can now request expungement. However, there is one catch; they must wait until their probation period has ended before applying to have the DUI charge removed from their record. The most recent statutes offer courts advice on what to consider when granting a DUI expungement. If you’ve profited from rehabilitative/educational programs, the Judge must take that into consideration. The Judge will review your criminal record to discover how many more criminal offenses you have following your DUI conviction. For first-time DUI offenders, the new law is a gain. People with the following convictions could have their records wiped under these new laws: It is illegal for anyone over 21 that has a blood alcohol percentage of 0.08 or above It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or above It is illegal to drive when visually impaired by any substance Please note that expungement for DUI only applies to first-time offenders. What Doesn’t Qualify for Expungement? Individuals facing multiple DUI offenses encounter limitations when seeking to expunge their drunk driving records. The expungement process is typically restricted to those with more than one DUI conviction. This stringent policy aims to prioritize public safety and deter repeat offenses by maintaining a clear record of an individual’s history of driving under the influence. Furthermore, cases involving Grand Rapids DUI convictions resulting in death or serious injury are typically ineligible for expungement. This is a reflection of the gravity of such incidents, emphasizing the lasting consequences of actions that lead to severe harm or loss of life due to impaired driving. For individuals holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) who were operating a commercial vehicle during the DUI incident, the possibility of expungement is currently unavailable. This aligns with the responsibility associated with operating commercial vehicles and underscores the need for accountability in cases involving professional drivers. A distinct category of DUI cases that lacks eligibility for expungement in Michigan involves “Child Endangerment” DUIs (also known as OWI, Operating While Intoxicated), where a child under the age of 16 is involved. Recognizing the increased severity of endangering a child in a DUI incident, the law establishes that individuals with such convictions are not eligible for DUI expungement. It is essential for individuals navigating DUI cases to be aware of these restrictions, as they underscore the significance of responsible and safe driving practices. The legal system seeks to balance rehabilitation opportunities with the protection of public welfare, particularly in cases involving multiple offenses, serious consequences, or endangerment of minors. What Felonies and Misdemeanors are Expungable? The recent legislative changes have significantly broadened the scope of expungement eligibility, especially for individuals with a criminal history involving multiple offenses. Prior to the implementation of this new legislation, individuals with more than one felony and two misdemeanors faced considerable barriers to expunging their criminal records. The stringent criteria created a challenge for those seeking a fresh start, limiting their ability to erase past mistakes from their records. However, the recent legal reforms have ushered in a more inclusive and rehabilitative approach. Under the new statute, individuals who have committed more than one criminal offense but fewer than three felonies now have the opportunity to pursue expungement for all of their convictions. This represents a significant shift in the legal landscape, acknowledging the potential for rehabilitation and reintegration into society for individuals who may have made multiple mistakes in the past. Expanding expungement eligibility to encompass a broader range of offenses aligns with evolving perspectives on criminal justice and rehabilitation. The recognition that individuals with multiple offenses can still demonstrate positive change and contribute positively to society has driven lawmakers to reconsider and revise the expungement criteria. This legislative change not only offers individuals a chance to rebuild their lives without the burden of past convictions but also reflects a commitment to fostering a more equitable and compassionate criminal justice system. By allowing those with a history of multiple offenses to seek expungement, the law acknowledges the potential for personal growth and rehabilitation, promoting a path toward a brighter and more promising future for individuals seeking a second chance. Are all Offences Expungable? While the recent legislative changes, particularly embodied in HB 4219, have opened new possibilities for expungement, it’s essential to recognize that not all offenses are eligible for this legal remedy. The justice system incorporates safeguards and limitations to maintain a balance between providing individuals with opportunities for a fresh start and ensuring public safety. One crucial limitation imposed by the law is the cap on the number of felonies an individual can have to be eligible for expungement. Specifically, if an individual has accumulated more than three felonies on their record, they will not qualify for expungement. This restriction is in place to draw a line between individuals who may benefit from the opportunity for rehabilitation and those whose criminal history suggests a pattern of more serious offenses. In addition to the limit on the number of felonies, HB 4219 outlines specific disqualifying factors that may impede an individual’s eligibility for expungement. These factors serve as a screening mechanism to ensure that certain offenses, due to their nature or severity, are not subject to expungement. The legislative intent behind these disqualifying factors is to strike a balance between providing second chances and recognizing the seriousness of certain criminal behaviors. Understanding these disqualifying factors is crucial for individuals navigating the expungement process. It underscores the importance of consulting with legal professionals who can assess the specific details of an individual’s criminal history and provide guidance on eligibility. While the opportunity for expungement represents a positive step toward criminal justice reform, it is accompanied by necessary limitations to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the legal system. When Can One Apply for Expungement of Their Records Achieving the expungement of a criminal record involves a thoughtful and strategic approach, requiring individuals to convince the court that they deserve the opportunity for a fresh start. The timing of the expungement application is a crucial factor in this process, and understanding when to initiate it is essential for a successful outcome. Typically, individuals should commence the expungement application process once they have completed their entire sentence, including any probationary period, or after being granted parole. This timing aligns with the completion of the primary legal consequences associated with the conviction, signaling a readiness for reintegration into society. However, it’s imperative to be aware of specific time limits imposed on expungement applications. The waiting period before applying for expungement varies based on the nature of the conviction: Multiple Felonies: Individuals convicted of more than one felony must wait seven or more years before applying for expungement. This extended waiting period reflects the seriousness of having multiple felony convictions on one’s record. Single Felony: Those with a single felony conviction are required to wait five years before becoming eligible for expungement. This waiting period provides a reasonable interval for demonstrating rehabilitation and a commitment to a law-abiding life. Serious Misdemeanors: Individuals convicted of serious misdemeanors also face a five-year waiting period. This category encompasses offenses of a lesser severity than felonies but still significant enough to warrant a distinct waiting period. Assault or Non-Serious Misdemeanors: For crimes involving assault or other non-serious misdemeanors, the waiting period is three years. This shorter timeframe acknowledges the less severe nature of these offenses. Understanding these waiting periods is vital for those seeking expungement, as it ensures compliance with legal requirements and maximizes the chances of a successful petition. It’s advisable to consult with legal professionals who specialize in expungement cases to navigate the nuances of the process effectively. By adhering to the prescribed waiting periods and presenting a compelling case for rehabilitation, individuals can enhance their prospects of having their records expunged and securing a fresh start in their lives. Do DUI Convictions Qualify for Automatic Expungement? Contrary to common misconceptions, DUI (Driving Under the Influence) convictions do not qualify for automatic expungement. Individuals with a DUI on their record must navigate the expungement process, and, similar to other offenses, they are subject to specific waiting periods before becoming eligible for expungement. The standard waiting period for expungement in the context of DUI convictions is seven years. This means that individuals must wait at least seven years from the date of their DUI conviction before being eligible to apply for expungement. During this waiting period, it is crucial to remain vigilant and avoid any further legal complications, particularly refraining from getting arrested for another DUI offense. While the seven-year waiting period represents a significant duration, it’s advisable to initiate the expungement process well before this timeframe elapses. Applying for expungement before the completion of the waiting period allows individuals to proactively address their legal situation and begin the process of rebuilding their lives sooner. Moreover, during the waiting period, it is imperative to maintain a clean legal record. Getting arrested for another DUI offense during this time can have severe consequences, jeopardizing the eligibility for expungement and potentially leading to additional legal complications. Navigating the complexities of DUI expungement requires careful consideration of the specific legal requirements and timelines. Seeking guidance from Grand Rapids legal professionals who specialize in expungement cases is highly recommended. Experienced DUI Lawyers in Grand Rapids can provide valuable insights into the process, assist in preparing a strong expungement petition, and help individuals avoid common pitfalls that could hinder the expungement of a DUI conviction. In summary, while DUI convictions do not qualify for automatic expungement, individuals can take proactive steps to pursue expungement after the completion of the requisite waiting period. Initiating the process before the seven-year mark and maintaining a clean legal record during this time are crucial aspects of a successful expungement strategy for DUI convictions. Why Should I Expunge My DUI Conviction It would be best to expunge your DUI conviction when possible because it’s better not to have a criminal record. Other DUI expungement benefits include: Lower interest rates Receiving higher wages Access to student loans Better housing Eligibility for Concealed Pistols License These are excellent benefits, but many eligible people do not make use of them. Multiple offenses (including DUI offenses) occurring within 24 hours could be considered one offense. For the application to be successful, the offenses must have occurred due to the same circumstances. That is why you’ll need a knowledgeable, experienced, and dependable DUI lawyer in Grand Rapids on your side: John Engman & Associates is the best law firm in West Michigan to help you. We provide legal defense services for those arrested for DUI offenses and assist clients with expungement applications. These expungement laws are new; you need an experienced legal team to help navigate them for a successful outcome. Call us and schedule a consultation to review your case and start working on getting your DUI record expunged. Our Grand Rapids DUI attorneys would be more than happy to assess the details of your case. To request a free consultation, call John Engman & Associates at (616) 454-5222.