Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower Michigan.

Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower michigan.

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What does a drunk driving expungement really mean?

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2022 | OWI

As a Michigan resident, you may have heard about the state’s recently enacted law that allows a first offense drunk driving conviction to be expunged. While there are many benefits to this new law, it is important to understand what having your drunk driving conviction expunged actually means.

Removal from your public record

A successfully expunged drunk driving conviction means the conviction is no longer part of your public criminal record. However, the conviction is still available and viewable as a non-public record.

This means that almost anyone involved in the legal system, including police officers, prosecutors and judges, can still see that you previously had a drunk driving conviction.

Your prior conviction also cannot be used for enhanced sentencing. Without an expungement, your first conviction would be used to give you a harsher penalty for a second or higher conviction. With an expungement, any new drunk driving conviction is considered another first-time conviction.

Although they cannot specifically apply the enhanced penalties, there is no guarantee a judge will still not secretly consider your expunged past conviction a factor when imposing any new sentence, since they will still know about it through the non-public record.

No removal from your driver’s license record

Furthermore, the new expungement law does not allow the drunk driving conviction to be removed from your driving record. This means employers or potential employers will still see a drunk driving conviction on your driving record for at least 7 years after your conviction. After 7 years, it will be shown as a previous driving conviction.

Despite these limitations, there are still many benefits to a drunk driving expungement. There are various requirements that must be met, as well as a waiting period, before a drunk driving conviction can be successfully expunged, but the advantages are worth it.

Having a conviction expunged from your public record can help you start over again after a bad mistake. A criminal defense attorney can discuss your expungement options with you.