Amnesty program to offer relief for those with a suspended license

Lack of transportation is the reason repeated again and again by addicts and treatment providers as a hurdle for successfully completing treatment and gaining employment.

“We’re looking for bicycles for drug court participants so they can get to and from their required meetings and appointments,” said Washington County public defender Ray Smith.

But drug and alcohol-related offenses aren’t the only reasons for license suspension.

“There are 46 different ways to have your license suspended,” said Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch.

Now, through a pilot amnesty program authorized by the state legislature last year, 25 of those convictions are eligible for a waiver or at least reduction in pricey fees including:

•Orders of disposition of an unruly child.

•Delinquent child.

•Juvenile traffic offender.

•Soliciting.

•Theft.

•Licensee’s competency.

•Driving without insurance.

•License suspension upon failure to request hearing.

•Breach of agreement regarding the accident.

•Judgment suspension.

•Remedial driving course suspension.

•Violation of municipal ordinance.

•Federal court suspension.

•Reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

•Failure to appear in court.

•Incompetence.

•Juvenile adjudications.

•Juvenile habitual absence.

•Wrongful entrustment.

•Texting and driving.

•Street racing.

•Failure to stop for a school bus.

•Hit-skip.

•Hit-skip to private property.

•Cigarettes penalty.

“This was never intended to address those suspended because of an OVI or other serious alcohol and drug offenses,” said Welch. “It’s other types of reinstatement fees imposed by the (Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles) that can stack up.”

Welch explained that the initiative is a requirement of the BMV to reduce the backlog and encourage drivers to be insured on the roads.

The backlog across the state as of 2017 was a total of 3.2 million active driver’s license suspensions, and in southeast Ohio, almost half of the suspensions recorded could be eligible for a reduction or waiver of fees for reinstatement.

“My focus over the next three months with this initiative is on child support suspensions, judgment suspensions and non-compliant suspensions and the other suspensions which are eligible,” said Welch. “We’re intending to have people from the BMV, Job and Family Services and many volunteers attorneys available to go through the process.”

That’s why Marietta Municipal Court, Southeastern Ohio Legal Services and the Washington County Public Defender’s office are offering aid today and two more times in drop-in clinics at the court to work with clients for free.

“It can be daunting to go through the paperwork, but we want to be there to address the financial problem and give people the opportunity to have if not a fully clean, at least a cleaner slate,” said Welch.

The driving privileges of Fantasy Green, 37, of Marietta, were revoked last year after she couldn’t afford to pay for car insurance as a single mom and got cited for driving without insurance.

“Then it was kind of like dominoes, and it’s stressful, I wonder if I can ever catch up,” Green said.

She has limited driving privileges, awarded by Welch, which she is grateful for as she works on payment plans to pay off the reinstatement fees and fines.

“I can drive to and from work and now also to Hopewell Health in Belpre for mine and my daughter’s appointments,” said Green. “But if I have doctors appointments in town or have to take my girls to their sports, we have to walk, or I’d get in more trouble.”

That spiral of fines and fees is one which Flite Freimann, director of the Washington County Department of Job and Family Services, hopes this amnesty program can provide relief for before it expires on July 31.

“For many, the cost is a serious obstacle, and we all want other drivers on the road to be insured,” said Freimann. “It’s not excusing the DUI or the other punishments, but that shouldn’t be a lifetime punishment which contributes to keeping you in poverty.”

The clinic today will run between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., and subsequent workshops will be held on June 6 and July 18.

“One of those will be held in the evening to meet the needs of those who work traditional daytime hours, too,” added Welch.

If you go:

• What: License reinstatement workshop.

• When: Drop in today, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Marietta Municipal Court, 259 Butler St.

• Additional dates: June 6 and July 18, times to be determined.

• Free guidance on:

• Setting up payment plans on judgment suspensions and to file a request for a court-ordered payment plan.

• 12-point suspensions.

• Warrant blocks.

• Driving privileges.

• This workshop is under the guidance of the Ohio Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative*

* Eligibility:

• Reduction of fees: Completed all eligible court-ordered sanctions except payment of reinstatement fees and are at least 18 months out from initial suspension.

• Waiver of fees: Completed all eligible court-ordered sanctions except payment of reinstatement fees and have proof of indigence by providing a screenshot of SNAP case status information from the Department of Job and Family Services.

*** Any offenses involving alcohol, drugs, or deadly weapons or associated with an offense of this nature do not qualify for the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative. In addition, Commercial Driver’s License and Commercial Temporary Permit suspensions do not qualify for the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative.

• For a full list of eligible convictions visit: http://bit.ly/OHreinstatementguide.

Source: Marietta Municipal Court and Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

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