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Thousands Eligible Under New Ohio Driver's License Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Program

Ohio Department of Transportation

Legal advocates are offering a free workshop in Dayton Monday to assist people in applying to Ohio's new six-month driver’s license reinstatement program. Bureau of Motor Vehicles numbers show approximately 410,000 Ohioans across the state would be eligible.

The temporary Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative was created by House Bill 336 and took effect in January. 

"For individuals to be eligible for a reduction of reinstatement fees they must have completed all court-ordered sanctions related to their eligible offense other than the payment of the reinstatement fee, and at least 18 months must have passed since the end of their court-ordered suspension," says Legal Aid of Western Ohio Staff Attorney Lanese Layne.

The program is designed for qualified, low-income drivers with licenses suspended for specific non-alcohol, drug or weapons-related offenses.

The amnesty program is badly needed, Layne says, to help otherwise law-abiding drivers who are unable to afford their reinstatement fees, fees that can quickly escalate into the thousands of dollars, trapping some Ohioans in a crushing cycle of debt from which many often can't escape.

"In Montgomery County alone there are approximately 215,000 active license suspensions, and if we can help people get their drivers licenses back it means they can go to work, school, doctors appointments," she says. "Having a valid drivers license and reliable transportation is crucial for people to sustain themselves.”

The amnesty program runs through July 31.

The groups Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, the Miami Valley Organizing Collaborative, and Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County are sponsoring Monday's free sign-up workshop.

When and where: Noon to 3 p.m. at the Northwest Branch of the Dayton Metro Library, 2410 Philadelphia Drive, Dayton, OH 45406.

Anyone interested in applying should bring a valid identification card and any paperwork related to their license suspension. They must also show proof of income.

Applicants can also apply for fee waivers or reductions by mail, in person at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, or online at the BMV website.

Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding America initiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.
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