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March 29, 2016

Trial courts have no authority to order Secretary of State to amend driving record after plea is withdrawn pursuant to delayed sentencing agreement

 
In People v. McCann, No. 325281, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that trial courts’ have no authority to order the Michigan Secretary of State to amend a driving record to remove reference to a guilty plea that is later dismissed pursuant to a delayed sentencing agreement. The Defendant pled guilty to operating under the influence of liquor causing serious injury (“OUIL”), among other charges; the trial court accepted a plea that delayed the OUIL sentence under MCL 771.1. An abstract of the conviction was sent to the Secretary of State, which in turn revoked Defendant’s driving privileges. Subsequently, however, the trial court entered an amended plea that involved Defendant withdrawing his OUIL plea and it dismissed the charge. The trial court then ordered the Secretary of State to amend Defendant’s driving abstract to remove the OUIL conviction and to correct his driving privileges accordingly.
 
The Court of Appeals held that the trial court had no power to order the Secretary of State to take this action.  It reasoned that the dismissal of charges following delayed sentencing does not constitute an expunction for purposes of the Michigan Vehicle Code. Removing the OUIL conviction from an individual’s criminal record does not require the conviction’s removal from a report maintained by the Secretary of State.  After analyzing the underlying justifications of the criminal code and Michigan Vehicle Code, the Court of Appeals held that since the Secretary of State’s concern is public safety, it is inconsequential that the trial court later accepted the plea withdrawal.  Defendant still committed the violation, which is what truly matters in the eyes of the Secretary of State.  As a result, the trial court had no authority to order the Secretary of State to amend its records to reflect the dismissal.

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