An OWI conviction may result in a combination of fines, jail time, driver license suspension, and community service. The conviction will show up on a background check and cause a home loan, business loan, or rental application to be denied. For some, it could mean the loss of a job or other employment opportunity. Expungement can remove a key obstacle to advancement in your professional and personal endeavors.
There's some good news from the governor's mansion. Starting in February 2022, eligible OWI offenders can have their conviction expunged from the public record. Expungement is a legal procedure that clears the conviction for first-time offenders provided that certain conditions are met. Ultimately, the decision to grant expungement is up to the discretion of the court, which is why Wayne County OWI attorney Greg Boulahanis believes that you must carefully follow the required steps to succeed.
Expungement can remove a key obstacle to advancement in your professional and personal endeavors.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is a legal term that comes from the Latin word expungere, which literally means to pierce or prick something out. To quote the American Bar Association, expungement “… is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record.” The requirements and qualifications differ from state to state. In Michigan, Governor Whitmer signed the Clean Slate act into law, and it is by far the most extensive law of its kind in the country. It applies to many criminal offenses, but in this article, we're going to focus on how it applies to past misdemeanor OWI offenses. For OWI offenses – also known as DUIs or DWIs in other states – an expungement can set the stage for personal advancement because it makes it easier to rent an apartment, qualify for an auto loan, or get hired.
Who Qualifies under the New Clean Slate Law?
The New Clean Slate law changes the public record so that the OWI won't show up during a background check. There are procedures that must be followed, and they can be a bit daunting if you're not experienced with filing forms and appearing in court. Unless you understand the intricacies of Wayne County courtrooms, hiring Wayne County OWI attorney Greg Boulahanis can streamline the process and boost the odds of convincing a judge to expunge your record.
The Clean Slate Law applies only to first-time misdemeanor OWIs. Here are the eligibility requirements:
- Only one OWI conviction. Second, third, or fourth OWI offenders are ineligible for expunction under this law.
- Felony OWIs are excluded. The Clean Slate law only covers first-time offenders who've been convicted for a misdemeanor OWI charge.
- A minimum of 5 years must have elapsed since you completed the probationary period. You must demonstrate that you have not had any other convictions since then and that you have completed all required driving safety programs in good faith that were required by the sentence.
- No one else was injured, maimed, or killed from the case.
Once these conditions are met, it will still be up to the judge whether to approve or deny an OWI expungement request. Having an experienced attorney by your side can tilt the odds in your favor.
Taking the Initial Steps
Boulahanis and Associates will help you through all steps of your case, although it will involve some participation on your part.
First, a copy of your criminal record will need to be pulled. Our office would need to review that to review the details of what happened and what's on the record.
Next, you'll need to go the police station to have fingerprints taken. If you're not sure which police station to go to, we can help point you in the right direction. Just contact our office.
Third, the application for expungement will need to be filled out accurately and date and time stamped by the court clerk. Again, we can help determine which court that should be. Photocopies need to be sent to the prosecutor, Attorney General, and the State Police.
How the Court Decides to Grant Expungement
Finally, there will be a hearing. You are required to appear at the hearing, and it is strongly suggested that you appear with an attorney by your side. A hearing can be an intimidating process to the uninitiated. A judge might grow impatient if certain details of the case seem sketchy or inconsistent with the record. It's an attorney's responsibility to make sure that all the judge's questions get answered fully and correctly on your behalf.
At the hearing, the judge will weigh whether you participated in drug or alcohol rehabilitation or educational programs. The judge will also review your DMV records to determine whether you have maintained a safe driving record since the conviction and whether you have been charged with any other crimes.
What If You Have a Few More Years to Go?
What if you have a few more years to go before your case could be heard. In our view, it will appear more favorable if you participate in the following activities:
- Attend a driver-training school. Here's a list of the best 10 driving schools.
- Attend a drug or alcohol treatment program if yours was a drug-related OWI.
- Volunteer for one or more community service programs. We have some experience with the local programs and can help recommend a few.
- There's no subtle way to say it: don't get busted again.
In short, you want to show the court that you have turned your life around and that you can document the steps you have taken as proof.
What Will Expungement Mean to You?
We can't think of a single instance where expungement could backfire, because if granted it means that you can put your past behind you and take advantage of exciting opportunities that may come your way. Third parties such as employers and the general public will be unable to access your past conviction record once it has been expunged. If you have any questions about the Clean Slate Law, please don't hesitate to contact Boulahanis and Associates. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.