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New Program Helps Detroiters With Suspended Licenses Get Back On Roads

May 08, 2018 - 8:16 am
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DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit has introduced a program to get residents back on the road and back to work.

The program will assist Detroit residents who qualify for forgiveness of Driver Responsibility Fees, allowing them to keep their driver’s licenses if they attend a special 10-hour workforce development program. Mayor Mike Duggan unveiled the program Tuesday.

Right now, at least 76,000 Detroit residents owe an average $1,600 in fees.Until those fees are paid, their drivers' licenses are suspended, which keeps many from holding jobs.

“Driver Responsibility Fees have been one of the biggest barriers to connecting Detroiters to jobs and opportunity,” Duggan said. “It’s not just an issue for logistics opportunities like truck driving. We are seeing significant growth in skilled trades opportunities, but these jobs often require a license because workers may need to be at a worksite on the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon.”

Rather than force its residents to wait for the fee forgiveness to kick in October 1, city officials created a program that allows them to complete 10 hours of workforce development training now and get their licenses back months sooner.

Here’s how the program works:

Mayor Duggan’s ‘Detroit at Work’ initiative has coordinated with Michigan Works agencies across the state and departments in Lansing to agree on a program that when complete, will allow Detroiters to apply for fee forgiveness immediately. Additionally, the $125 Driver’s License Reinstatement Fee is waived through the end of the year so eligible drivers can get their license restored for free.

Detroiters who wish to have their fees waived early can complete the required training online or at a events scheduled across the city.  Residents can start the fee forgiveness process today by visiting detroitatwork.com/drf.

Driver Responsibility Fees, enacted by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislators in 2003, are imposed in addition to regular fines and had come under criticism as a budget-balancing “money grab” that disproportionately hurt low-income motorists who cannot afford to pay, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Historically, only 55 percent of the debt has been paid. Gov. Rick Snyder. in March signed legislation to end the fees and clear outstanding debts, effective Oct. 1.