As we all know (or should know), driving is a privilege and not a right. Driver license suspension laws are put in place to keep the roads safe, discipline those who violate driving laws and provide additional funding for court and state operations from violation fees. Currently, there are over 300,000 Ohioans who have suspended driver licenses that are preventing them from being able to drive legally. Both republicans and democrats in the state have shown favor and demand to reform its driver license suspension laws with a new Ohio amnesty program. In this blog, we discuss the new program and what it means for an individual who has had a long-term driver license suspension as well as how to apply for the program.
What is the Ohio amnesty program?
The Ohio amnesty program is a six-month program that began on January 31, 2019. It allows the individuals who have had their driver license suspended for a long period of time to be able to drive again if they meet certain requirements. It’s a great opportunity for a fresh start behind the wheel. However, it’s important to note that this program is not open to drivers whose violations involved drug abuse, alcohol or deadly weapons. It’s available to those whose offenses include reckless driving, driving without proof of insurance, failure to stop for school buses and other specific violations.
Under the amnesty law, indigent people can choose to have their reinstatement fees waived or have them reduced. Before applying, the individual has to have completed all court-ordered sanctions and held the license suspension for at least 18 months. A co-sponsor of the bill, Ohio state representative John E. Barnes Jr. says that the goal of the Ohio amnesty program is to protect the public while helping people get gainful employment.
What does it mean to have a suspended license in Ohio?
Those who have suspended driver licenses cannot operate any vehicle. This means that they must find other means of transportation to school or work or other necessary functions. Believe or not, suspended drivers can also have more than one suspension at a time. For instance, if a person is caught operating a vehicle without a valid license, then they can get another suspension on top of their existing one.
These suspensions and reinstatement fees are costly. They can range from $15 to $650 per violation and can pile up quickly. Since driving is a privilege and not a right, a lot of these suspensions have nothing to do with driving. It’s simply a way to punish those who violate a law in order to collect money from violation fees to provide funding for court and state operations.
Reasons for license suspensions
In 2017, there were about 3.3 million driver license suspensions in Ohio. As stated previously, a person can have multiple suspensions at the same time. While a lot of these is driving related, some of the suspensions are given for reasons that have nothing to do with driving. Here is a list of driving and non-driving related reasons for license suspensions in 2017, according to the Ohio BMV.
How to apply for the program
You must complete the application between January 31, 2019 and July 31, 2019. You can apply for either a reinstatement fee debt reduction or waiver. The following restrictions apply, according to the Ohio BMV:
Applications for fee reductions can be completed online through the BMV Online Services website, or in person at a deputy registrar license agency.
Applications for a complete waiver of fees, otherwise known as amnesty, must be processed by mail. The application and supporting documents have to be processed and reviewed at the Columbus office. Therefore, you must mail your completed Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Application form to:
P.O. Box 16521
Columbus, OH 43216-6521
For more information about the Ohio amnesty program, please visit the Ohio BMV suspensions and reinstatement page.