Thanks to a new Michigan law, certain criminal convictions stemming from drunk driving and impaired driving can be wiped from criminal records. For health care professionals with a single Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) violation, this opportunity for expungement means your record will no longer be stained because of it.
For physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other licensed healthcare providers, having a criminal conviction is a serious matter, especially for instances involving drunk or impaired driving. After all, as a health professional, you’re held to a high standard, with people’s lives literally in your hands.
A one-time lapse in judgment that would lead to getting pulled over for drunken driving can also result in collateral consequences. For example, a nurse with an OWI violation can have her nursing license suspended. If a pain management specialist has an OWVI on his record, he could face mandatory enrollment in the Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP), Michigan’s impaired practitioners program. And, should a physician with OWI offenses go before a peer review board, she could lose her credentials and be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).
But the new Public Acts, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed August 23, 2021, will help on the criminal side of things. Public Acts 78 and 79 of 2021 will now allow for an estimated 200,000 people who have one OWI or OWVI conviction to ask the court to strike it — or expunge it — from their criminal record as if it had never happened.
Should you be given a judge’s OK for an OWI/OWVI expungement, things will be a bit easier. For example, you won’t have to answer “Yes” to questions about criminal convictions on employment, housing, insurance, and other applications that require background clearance.
However, the Michigan OWI/OWVI expungement process — which goes into effect in 2022 — doesn’t cover everything, and not all OWI-related convictions qualify. Further, there are crucial timelines involved, as well as a detailed application and filing process that leaves no room for errors.
Our criminal law attorneys for Michigan health care providers have answers to what the new law is all about, how you can take advantage of it, and stipulations for which you must be careful.