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If passed, new statute provides forgiveness for one-time-only DUI offenders

Posted at 5:01 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 18:15:21-05

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — A new Senate bill on Governor Whitmer's desk would allow for those who were convicted once and once only of a DUI to have the case removed from their record.

Criminal defense attorney Sarissa Montague says this is a step in the right direction.

“Up until now, forever, if you go back forever, if you’ve been convicted of a drunk driving offense, you were always going to have that drunk driving offense on your record, even if it was the only thing you were convicted of your whole life,” Montague said.

But the potential forgiveness is not without its limitations, Montague says.

“It does not mean that every person who has had a first offense drunk driving will have their conviction set aside,” Montague said.

The people qualified to have their records expunged will face strict requirements. For starters, the person seeking to have the records changed must have never been charged with another crime, or have any criminal charges pending.

Those who qualify would need to have also completed their punishment, whether that be fines, jail time, or parole, and the case needs to be more than three years old.

Then a judge has the ultimate power to make the decision.

“I’ve worked with people who have convictions from the 70s, those convictions weigh on their minds. There are many people, who they cannot rest easy, because of a conviction they received many many years ago,” Montague said.

Montague says this change if allowed, sets the right reward for good behavior after a mistake.

“The statute provides the incentive for acting well," Montague said.

For forms and information on how to go through the process if the bill does indeed pass, Montague says you can attempt to navigate the process on your own by contacting the state's attorney's office for paperwork.