SEMCA offering free legal assistance to have Non-Repeat Drunk Driving (OWI) Offenses expunged from criminal record

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SEMCA Michigan Works! will begin accepting applications January 3, 2022, to assist eligible job seekers wanting to expunge Non-Repeat Drunk Driving (OWI) Offenses from their criminal record. Additionally, SEMCA is providing no-cost legal counseling sessions with a program attorney for qualified individuals on February 12, 2022, at the Wayne County Community College District-Downriver Campus in Taylor. Interested residents should take the required first step and complete the free Clean Slate Application to determine their eligibility in the program.

SEMCA’s Clean Slate Program for Monroe and Wayne Counties (excluding the City of Detroit) offers residents a unique opportunity to have their past criminal convictions, which now includes first time driving/operating under the influence convictions, expunged from their criminal record. This recently expanded program provides people a wide range of new opportunities for employment, housing and education. SEMCA covers all the cost (except for fingerprinting) including providing an attorney for the applicant’s hearing.

To better explain the new law for Non-Repeat OWI offenders and for those persons interested in fast tracking the expungement process, SEMCA Michigan Works! will be holding a by invitation-only event, which will provide free counseling sessions with a program attorney. After successfully submitting the Clean Slate Application, applicant eligibility for expungement will be determined following a criminal history review by Michigan’s iChat (Internet Criminal History Access Tool). Eligible registered applicants will be contacted by SEMCA Clean Slate staff to schedule an appointment. On the day of the event, invited applicants will be provided a copy of their criminal history along with a breakdown of the rest of the process. This event will also provide free onsite fingerprinting (which is required for the expungement), courtesy of the Taylor Police Department. Participants will be introduced to and have access to a wide range of services that SEMCA Michigan Works! Agencies provide. According to Greg Pitoniak SEMCA CEO, “The Clean Slate program is yet another opportunity for SEMCA to fulfill its primary mission of helping individuals obtain a job and employers to find the talent they need.”

On August 23, 2021, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that amended previous Clean Slate laws to allow for expungement of convictions for first time offenders of operating while intoxicated (OWI) under certain circumstances. This new legislation is effective February 19, 2022. By amending this legislation, non-repeat OWI offenders may now utilize the Clean Slate laws. This allows an estimated 200,000 non-repeat OWI offenders to have the opportunity for a second chance at a clean record. 

Amy Malara, Associate Project Manager for SEMCA’s Clean Slate Program, says, “The new legislation that has recently passed opens doors that were previously closed for those first-time non-repeat OWI/DUI offenders.”

Expungement Eligibility

Up to three felonies and an unlimited number of misdemeanors, with certain conditions on the types of offenses that qualify:

    • No more than two assaultive crimes may be expunged
    • No more than one felony conviction for the same offense if the offense is punishable by more than 10 years imprisonment

The waiting period to apply after a person’s monitoring by the justice system ends (i.e., sentencing, probation, release from incarceration, parole, whichever occurred last) if they remain conviction-free. The waiting period will be:

    • Three years for misdemeanors
    • Five years for serious misdemeanors or one felony
    • Seven years for multiple felonies

Drivers who have been convicted of OWI (DUI) qualify if they meet the following criteria:

    • Any person operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more
    • Any person operating a vehicle while visibly impaired by alcohol or other controlled substance
    • A person under 21 years old operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02 or more
    • Any person from operating a vehicle with any bodily amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 controlled substance
    • Only applicable to the first offense
    • Must complete five years of probation
    • Goes into effect February 23, 2022 (Applications accepted January 3, 2022)

Meet with SEMCA Clean Slate legal team

If you are interested in attending the Clean Slate event February 12, 2022, at the Wayne County Community District-Downriver Campus, you must complete the Clean Slate Application and receive an official invitation to attend. Apply early as space is limited.

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