A chance at normal
There has been an argument by some social justice advocates that if a crime is only punishable with a fine, then it is a crime only for those who are poor. While that may be a bit of a stretch, it seems the idea stuck with enough Ohio lawmakers that a year ago the state made permanent an amnesty program that gives low-income Ohioans the chance to apply to have their reinstatement fees forgiven or reduced, after having their licenses suspended for mistakes such as not having proof of insurance, several traffic tickets or another such non-serious offense.
According to a report by The Columbus Dispatch, that program has so far forgiven more than $255 million in reinstatement fees for 380,000 drivers.
“When you look at the reduction numbers, the dollar numbers, it’s kind of staggering. We’ve really put a dent into this,” Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Registrar Charlie Norman said. “I think it’s fair to say we put 100,000 people back on the road legally, that if it were not for amnesty, might not be there.”
That’s 100,000 Buckeye State residents who can still get to work, get their kids to school, get to doctor’s appointments or take care of family members.
There are exceptions. Amnesty cannot be granted to those whose suspensions involve alcohol, drugs or weapons, for example. But this is a step toward giving Ohioans who otherwise are law-abiding citizens a chance to lead a normal life.