Whitmer signs last bill in drunken driving expungement package

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday signed a key remaining piece of a package of bills that will allow first-time drunken driving offenders to apply for expungement. 

The bill from Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, sets a five-year waiting period from the time a defendant is sentenced or completes any imprisonment, probation or parole to the point where an individual is able to file an application to set aside the offense.

McBroom thanked the governor and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist for considering the legislation. Whitmer signed two other bills in the bipartisan package in late August, but had to wait until the Senate approved McBroom's portion. 

“This is an amazing opportunity for perhaps over 200,000 citizens who made one error years ago to have new job opportunities and personal freedom," he said. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a press conference at the Farwell Recreation Center in Detroit on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Whitmer announced a proposal to strengthen public safety using resources from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The legislation would allow individuals convicted of a first-time drunk driving offense to petition a court to set aside the conviction five years after sentencing. The bills, which take effect in six months, do not allow for the expungement of offenses that resulted in serious injury or death. 

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed similar legislation last session, but it was vetoed by Whitmer, a Democrat.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving — Michigan said in August that the organization remains opposed to the legislation because, in many cases, a person arrested on a first-time offense has driven while drunk on multiple occasions before.

MADD representatives met with Whitmer's office twice at the beginning of the year to discuss the bills and suggested requiring individuals seeking expungement to use an ignition interlock device for six months to prove they were driving sober. The proposal was never adopted.