Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Gov. Whitmer kills bill that would clear records for one-time DUI offenders

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 1:25 PM

click to enlarge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a recent COVID-19 news conference. - GOV. WHITMER'S OFFICE
  • Gov. Whitmer's office
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a recent COVID-19 news conference.

No dice for first-time drunken drivers in Michigan looking to clean their records, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has quashed Senate Bill 1254, which would have expunged public records for eligible DUI offenders.

Senate Bill 1254, which was introduced to the governor on Dec. 21 after passing 96-8 in the House and 32-5 in the Senate, was killed on Monday after Whitmer invoked what is referred to as a “pocket veto,” which essentially kills a bill by allowing it to expire within the 14-day pass/veto window, The Detroit Free Press reports.

“This is a bad veto and harms Michiganders,” Rep. Graham Filler, R-DeWitt, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee tweeted on Monday.

“Expungement helps people get jobs/educational opportunities and move on from their mistakes. OWI expungement would have had a massive impact and helped thousands of Michigan citizens,” Filler added. “So I ask again, what is our Governor doing?”

There are an estimated 200,000 Michiganders with OWI convictions on their records who would have likely been considered eligible for the expungement program if passed. Michigan residents with more than one OWI, or whose drunk driving resulted in physical harm, death, serious injury, or a felony conviction, were not eligible under the legislation, which Filler describes as having been “carefully crafted” to only include one public record expungement per person, meaning law enforcement would still have access to those records for purposes of public safety and future court proceedings.

Also on Monday, Whitmer signed a handful of bills targeting criminal justice reform, including reducing penalties for several low-level offenses like driving on a suspended license, reducing penalties for several low-level offenses such as driving on a suspended license, as well as eliminating mandatory minimum jail sentences, and concealing court records for juveniles from public view. She also created an automatic expungement program for juvenile records.

In October, Whitmer signed Clean Slate Michigan into law, a bill package that allows a person to apply to expunge one or more marijuana offenses if it would not have been a crime if committed after the 2018 recreational legalization of marijuana in Michigan. It also expands expungement eligibility for select traffic offenses and allows multiple felonies or misdemeanors from the same 24-hour period to be treated as one conviction for expungement.

However, under current Michigan law, drunken driving offenses remain on an individual's record for life.

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