LANSING, Mich. — Michiganders convicted of driving under the influence only once are now able to wipe their records clean; as long as the incident didn't result in injuries.
That's thanks to a new law that went into effect on Feb. 19.
Supporters celebrated the new law on Tuesday and say it's an important step in giving people a second chance.
“This isn’t about drunk driving, it’s about giving people second chances to people who have shown through their subsequent conduct that an old DUI conviction was an isolated mistake," said John Cooper, the executive director of Safe & Just Michigan.
Until just this week, Cooper says, Michiganders with a DUI conviction had that stain on their record forever— with no way of removing it.
“Every DUI was a matter of permanent public record– not anymore," Cooper said.
There are exclusions to the new law. For instance, any traffic violation that resulted in injury or death cannot be expunged. But advocates say it's an important change because even a one time offense can set a person up for a whole host of barriers in other aspects of their lives.
“It’s preventing them from not only getting gainful employment or being able to be elevated or get promotions in their jobs it also sometimes prevents people from being able to get housing," said State Rep. Tenisha Yancey.
Getting an eligible DUI expunged isn't as simple as filling out a form. To start, a person needs to wait five years before filing for expungement of a first-time DUI. People looking for expungement will have to file a multi-step application and send information to the Michigan Attorney General's office, state police and the court in the county where the incident took place.
“Assuming everything comes back clear and you appear to be eligible you will then go in front of the judge and kind of explain why you want the conviction expunged," said Kamau Sandiford the program manager for Clean Slate Michigan.
Although it's quite a process, Michiganders now have a way to clean up their permanent record.