A driver’s license is often more than a luxury. For many people in Ohio, it is necessary to maintain a job, to obtain food for oneself and one’s family and to access medical care. Even so, hundreds of thousands of people statewide have had their licenses suspended in the past year alone. In some situations, people lost their licenses as a result of violating traffic laws, but in other cases, the reason for the suspension has nothing to do with driving. For this reason, calls for the state to reform its license suspension laws have received bipartisan support from an increasing number of constituents from across Ohio. 

As of January 31st, the state has answered the call with a driver amnesty program that will last for six months and allow drivers who have had their licenses suspended for certain offenses to reinstate them while paying no fee. The program is not available to people who lost their licenses as a result of an offense related to alcohol, but there are 25 other offenses that do qualify. These include traffic violations such as reckless operation, failure to stop after an accident or for a school bus and operating a vehicle without a license, as well as offenses unrelated to driving, such as truancy or juvenile delinquency. 

There are approximately 1.1 million drivers in the state with their licenses currently suspended. Of these, approximately one-third qualify for the amnesty program. Local groups in Dayton, Ohio, are holding a series of workshops for people in the area to learn about the program and how they can navigate it successfully and regain their licenses. 

The program helps those with suspended licenses to regain their driving privileges, but it does not appear to do anything to help those already facing penalties for driving under suspension. People facing such penalties may find it helpful to contact an attorney.