Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) is a non-profit regional law firm that provides high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.
Nearly 2000 people helped during driver's license clinics
A lack of a driver’s license or high license reinstatement fees have been a barrier for thousands of Ohioans seeking stable employment. Lack of work often prevents them from getting housing, food, and other necessities to support themselves and their families.
Ohio House Bill 336 provided a 6-month pilot program allowing for amnesty or a reduction of drivers' license reinstatement fees and fines for people unable to pay. Its aim - to get Ohio drivers back on the road to work. Our listening sessions in the community told us that suspended driver's licenses with fines too large to overcome were a big concern to many people with low incomes. So, when the Ohio legislature passed HB 336 - the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative - we jumped on the opportunity to reach as many people as possible during the pilot program.
In 2019, ABLE, LAWO, and community partners held 15 driver’s license clinics in Toledo, Dayton, and Lima and helped nearly 2,000 eligible individuals with fee waiver and reduction applications. Judges, court personnel, Ohio BMV representatives, reentry supporters, local community colleges, and pro bono programs and their volunteer attorneys collaborated to make the clinics a success. Thank you to all who contributed time and talent!
In Toledo, we helped 750 people apply for reductions or waivers of $341,228.50 in reinstatement fees.
In Dayton, we helped 1,198 individuals apply to reduce or waive $440,943 in fees.
The Intangible Effect
Participants in the driver's license legal clinics expressed their relief and joy in knowing that they were well on their way to driving without fear or not driving at all. It meant a lot to know that legislators recognized and resolved the issue.
A Pilot Turns Into a Long-term Legislative Solution
The HB 336 pilot program was so successful that the Ohio Legislature made certain provisions permanent in HB 285 and strengthened others. HB 285, passed and signed into law in 2020, expanded the number of people who qualify for a waiver of reinstatement fees.
ABLE was proud to submit written testimony bringing our clients' experiences to the decision-making process in January of 2020. Read ABLE's testimony, submitted by attorney Josh Loya here (pdf).