Operating while impaired (OWI) charges typically begin when an officer stops a vehicle. In Michigan, a police officer may pull over a vehicle if they have probable cause, including any violation of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code. An officer can conduct a traffic stop for many different reasons. They may stop you for speeding or a broken tailgate. However, the justifications should be objective and within reason. They cannot pull you over based on instinct, as this is a violation of your constitutional rights.
What if the officer believes you have been drinking?
The officer will arrest you if they suspect you have been drinking while operating the vehicle. They will then ask you to submit to a chemical test. If the tests prove that you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, the prosecution might have enough to merit an OWI conviction. Fortunately, if it was your first OWI conviction and you are eligible, you can apply for an expungement.
What is an OWI expungement?
An expungement allows first-time OWI offenders to clear their public criminal records. It will also prevent law enforcement officers from using your first OWI to enhance the charges. For example, if an officer charges you with an OWI after the expungement, it will not be a second OWI offense.
When can you apply for expungement?
You must wait five years after completing your sentence before beginning the expungement process. The expungement process for OWI convictions is incredibly complex, and you must prepare for all the requirements before your hearing. One of the most challenging parts of the expungement process is convincing the judge in your hearing to grant the expungement.
Expungements for OWI convictions are not automatic. If you fail the process, even due to minor paperwork errors, you will have to wait three more years before you can apply for expungement again.