House Bill 285 would help Ohioans get suspended driver’s licenses back with amnesty program

1,000,000 Ohioans have suspended licenses and reinstatement fees can be roadblock.
Updated: Oct. 8, 2019 at 2:31 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -House Bill 285 (HB 285) in Ohio looks to create a permanent program to help people with suspended licenses, reduce or forgive reinstatement fees.

But for a short time, beginning Oct. 17, people can use the extended pilot program to get help.

“Of the 1,000,000 people with suspended licenses, if we believe they’ve just stopped driving we’re not being realistic,” State Representative Dave Greenspan said who is co-sponsoring the bill.

There are many reasons a person might have their driver’s license suspended from alcohol and drug cases, to driving without insurance, or failure to show up to court.

Fees to get that licence reinstated can be anywhere from $15 to $650.

“$50 to some people might as well be like $5,000,000 to others,” Greenspan said.

There has already been one six month pilot program that was approved by lawmakers that went from Feb. 1 through July 31 to help get those fees reduced or waived if a person was proven indigent.

In that period 76,000 people applied and received some sort of help, while 7,000 had driving privileges restored.

Not everyone is eligible for assistance.

Those who’s licenses were suspended for drug, alcohol or sex crime convictions are not eligible for the amnesty program.

According to Greenspan this is ultimately about making sure people who are driving, are doing so legally.

In urban community like Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati the amount of people driving with a suspended license is estimated as one in four.

“Statistically if you’re sitting at a traffic light, you might have a license but one of the other three people at the light doesn’t,” Greenspan said.

Once a person gets their license back they can get insurance, or possible improve their economic situation by driving to a job.

“It’s a life and safety issue, it’s an employment issue and it’s a quality of life issue,” Greenspan said.

An extension of the first trial was signed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine as a part of the state’s latest budget.

The program will begin again Oct. 17 and run through the end of the year.

If HB 285 makes it through committee this fall, passes the House and Senate, the program could become permanent.

One addition to the bill is to make this a one time program, meaning once a person has received a reduced, or the fee was forgive all together, they can’t enter the program again.

To apply, starting on Oct. 17th, people can either go to the Ohio BMV’s website and fill out the “Reinstatement Fee Amnesty” application.

People can also contact the Legal Aid Society for assistance.

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