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Whitmer signs last drunken driving expungement bill

Associated Press

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday signed the last bill in a package to allow first time drunken drivers to have a chance at getting their criminal records expunged.

Whitmer has rejected similar legislation in the past year after signing a slew of “Clean Slate” expungement bills for other offenses. However, she signed legislation in late August that provides an allowance for non-repeat operating while intoxicated offenders to get their record expunged.

The bill signed Friday requires those who seek expungement to not apply until at least five years after sentencing, completion of imprisonment, completion of probation or discharge from parole, whichever comes last. Those whose offenses resulted in the serious injury or death of an individual are not included in the legislation.

Michigan previously offered no opportunity for those with drunken driving convictions to petition a court to get their criminal record expunged. Supporters of the newly signed legislation say that system created a lifetime punishment that exceeded any sentence imposed by a judge.

Having a criminal record can impact a person’s ability to go to school, find employment, secure housing and otherwise move past previous mistakes and build a life.

About 200,000 offenders will get a second chance at maintaining a clean record, Whitmer said in a news release Friday.

“No one should be defined forever by a mistake they made in the past,” said Whitmer. “In total, this legislation will help us remove barriers so that all residents are able to compete for jobs with a clean record and contribute to their communities in a positive way.”