Drunk Driving

Take Advantage of Michigan’s First Offense OWI Expungement Law

 Our firm has handled many first offense Operating While Intoxicated – OWI cases. The social stigma of being arrested, spending a night in jail, hiring an attorney, and appearing in public court is terrible. The prospect of spending more time in jail is horrifying for our clients. One of the hidden penalties for a Michigan OWI is that drunk driving cases were NOT eligible to be expunged…ever.  We cannot tell you how many good people have contacted our office through the years begging for any chance to have a blemish removed from their record. These are teachers, doctors, nurses, and contributing members to society and their local communities. Our answer to them was always the same…there is no chance for you to ever make this right and remove it from your record. Until now

On August 23, 2021, Michigan’s Governor signed House Bills 4219 and 4220. For the first time ever, the legislature has provided a path for first violation Operating While Intoxicated – OWI cases to be expunged from a person’s record. This is a huge change in the law, especially when combined with the Clean Slate legislation and offers those who have been turned down for employment, denied security clearances with the government, and thousands of others the chance to start fresh and get these first offenses removed from their record permanently.

Tell Us About Your Case

When is This Opportunity Available to Me?

Since two-thirds of the Michigan legislature did not give this new law immediate effect, the law will be available to the citizens of Michigan after February 19, 2022.  Since there is time until this law takes effect, the time to get prepared to get your first offense Operating While Intoxicated – OWI expunged is NOW. Attorney Raymond Purdy is a former sheriff and prosecutor and knows how to prepare his clients to maximize their chance of success. Expungement is no different and the best results will be obtained by hiring and attorney to handle everything for you. Since this is a new process for both the clients and the courts, it will take some time for each jurisdiction to find the best way possible to handle the flood of cases that will inevitably hit the system. Be one of the first to get on the docket and clear your first offense Operating While Intoxicated – OWI permanently.

Am I Eligible to Have My Operating While Intoxicated – OWI Expunged?

There is no automatic removal of first offense drunk driving cases. Every expungement under this new statute will require a judge to review the record for eligibility and a hearing will be needed where that same judge will have discretion whether to grant the request. The statute only allows an expungement of a “first violation operating while intoxicated offense”. Even if you have received multiple “first offense” Operating While Intoxicated – OWI offense, only the first one you received will be eligible for expungement. In the statute it defines a first violation OWI as the following offenses:

Operating While Intoxicated offenses that are eligible for expungement

  • Operating with Combination Alcohol/Drugs
  • OWI High BAC (“Superdrunk”)
  • Allowing an Intoxicated Person to Operate
  • OWVI (“Visibly Impaired”)
  • Minor with any BAC (“Zero Tolerance”)
  • Operating with the Presence of a Controlled Substance conviction.

 The statute also elaborates on convictions that will NOT be eligible for expungement

  • OWI/OWVI/Combo Causing Serious Impairment of a Bodily Function,
  • OWI/OWVI/Combo Causing Death
  • OWI w/Child under 16-Years (“Child Endangerment”).
  • OWI Commercial Vehicle

If you take advantage of this law and have a first offense Operating While Intoxicated – OWI expunged, you will NOT be eligible again and it is only one in a lifetime. Also if you are convicted of ANY misdemeanor or felony during the applicable waiting periods or pending criminal case, you may be ineligible under the statute.

How Long Do I Have to Wait to be Eligible for Expungement?

The new statute provides for two waiting periods before you are eligible to seek expungement. Many of the first offense Operating While Intoxicated – OWI cases will be available after five years. However, there are instances where seven years may need to pass before you are eligible. These are rare cases where you may have charged with multiple concurrent felonies along with your OWI case. These time periods start after you have completed all jail and/or probation that was ordered in your case.  To be sure what waiting period applies to your first offense Operating While Intoxicated – OWI case it is imperative that you consult with an attorney that handles these matters on a regular basis.

Can’t I Handle This on My Own and Not Hire an Attorney?

It is certainly your prerogative to try and handle your first offense Operating While Intoxicated – OWI expungement on your own. Based on our many years of handling criminal cases in jurisdictions across the State of Michigan, it is the discretion afforded to the trial judges that will be the most challenging aspect of this new law. Any expungements will have to be handled by the SAME judge who handle the initial OWI case unless they are retired or not available. The trial judge may choose to consider the following:

  • Whether the petitioner has benefited from any of the rehabilitative or education programs that they ordered or that the petitioner voluntarily participated in
  • Proof that you have maintained abstinence from alcohol and drugs in the time period between the petition and the OWI

This could be very similar to driver license restoration cases that are very difficult to prove and may require more preparation depending on the trial judge and their individual requirements. Due to this discretion, it is very important to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal trial attorney.


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821 West Savidge St. Spring Lake, MI 49456