Ohio is hoping to get some traffic violators back on the road – legally.
A new law now in effect creates a short-term traffic violation amnesty program. The program approved by Ohio state lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. John Kasich is intended to decrease the high number of Ohioans with suspended driver’s licenses.
Previously HB336, the new law creates a six-month program that is designed to help indigent Ohioans who are unable to afford the reinstatement fee or fines they received throughout their license suspension. Offenses involving alcohol, drugs or deadly weapon charges would not be eligible for the amnesty program.
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles estimates 2.4 million active license suspensions may qualify for a fee reduction or waiver.
The most common type of suspension relates to noncompliance, or failure to show proof of insurance at a traffic stop or wreck. The violation accounts for 39 percent of the statewide suspensions in the most current one year time period.
Eligibility requirements for a fee reduction or waiver include the individual’s suspension has been in effect for at least 18 months, the individual is indigent, and the individual has completed all court-ordered sanctions other than paying the reinstatement fee.
An indigent person is defined by the new law as an individual who participates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If the affected person has reinstatement fees for multiple offenses, they must pay either the lowest fee or 10 percent of the amount owed for all such offenses, whichever is greater.
Rep. Dave Greenspan, R-Westlake, and Rep. John Barnes, D-Cleveland, said the new law incentivizes individuals to legally reinstate their license, keep their insurance coverage, and not drive with a suspended license.
“It is our goal to create a reasonable, practical, and measured attempt to make sure that Ohioans are legal to drive with a valid driver’s license and insurance while driving through our neighborhoods and on our interstates,” Greenspan said in prepared remarks.
The debt reduction and amnesty program will result in a one-time loss of state reinstatement fee revenue of about $298 million, according to the Ohio Legislative Services Commission. The revenue is primarily routed to the Public Safety – Highway Purposes Fund.
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