LANSING, Mich. — The recent veto of a bill that would have allowed first-time offenders convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) to have their convictions set aside is a disservice to those who have paid their debts to society, said Sen. Ed McBroom and Rep. Beau LaFave.
Senate Bill 1254, sponsored last session by McBroom, would have created the OWI set-aside allowance, and would have built upon other set-aside legislation that was passed and signed into law by the governor last year.
“It frankly doesn’t make much sense that the governor chose to sign similar legislation letting first-time marijuana or sex crime convictions to be set aside, for example, but not to allow set-asides for people with one OWI conviction,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “If a person has served their time and paid their debts to society, it is in the best interest of everyone that they get back on their feet and become productive members of society.
“The governor has made a terrible mistake in not providing this relief to these people and their families, along with employers looking for individuals to fill job vacancies. I hope to revisit this issue in the new year, because one bad mistake made long ago shouldn’t sideline someone from pursuing their slice of the American dream.”
The bill would not have provided an automatic conviction set-aside and would have only been applicable to first-time offenders whose criminal action did not result in an injury or death.
An individual would have been eligible to petition for set-aside three years after their last day of imprisonment, probation, or date of sentencing, whichever was latest.
“The biggest reason people in Michigan — about 2% of all residents — don’t have a clean record isn’t felony grand theft, arson, or breaking and entering,” said LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, who sponsored similar legislation in the House. “It’s misdemeanor, first time, DUI. The above crimes can now be expunged, and multiple felonies can be removed from your record because of reforms Whitmer signed. Misdemeanor DUI is the only misdemeanor you can’t expunge. Why?
“These individuals deserve a chance to learn and move on from their past mistakes, much like other nonviolent offenders with the same opportunities. The signing of this legislation would have been especially beneficial in rural Michigan, where there aren’t as many jobs or housing options to begin with. We should be encouraging people to live here and raise their families, to work, and give back to the community. It doesn’t make sense that Gov. Whitmer would be opposed to such a beneficial measure yet be supportive of other criminal justice reforms.”