© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

University of Akron's Expungement Clinic Now Helps Get Driver's Licenses Back, Too

photo of Joann Sahl

The University of Akron’s expungement clinic has been seeing more people who also need help getting their driver’s licenses reinstated. WKSU’sKabirBhatia reports on how the two issues are often intertwined and can be solved at the same time.

Attorneys from the university have been volunteering once a month for the past four years to help people with criminal pasts get a certificate from the court, stating that while they have a record, they’ve been rehabilitated and are a good candidate for a job.

'Every time you drive you get pulled over. But to be employed you have to get to work, so you keep driving.'

  The majority of the people at the clinics also have suspended licenses, and now attorneys like Bill Dowling can help navigate the legal maze of getting the licenses back.

“Imagine going to apply for a job and not having a driver’s license. Imagine trying to cash a check and not having a driver’s license. It’s one of those basic qualifications for legitimacy and I think the courts recognize that.”

Dowling says many people don’t realize that payment plans are available for driver’s license fees, which can often snowball into thousands of dollars.

“If you live in a little town and you don’t have a license, the police get to know who you are. And every time you drive you get pulled over. But to be employed you have to get to work – you keep driving. Some people have accumulated reinstatement fees with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles of $5,000, $10,000 or even more. For poor people, that’s a heck of a lot of money.”

Dowling adds that the lawmakers may also want to look into changing laws that take away licenses for offenses like truancy or being behind on child support. The next University of Akron expungement clinic is August 26 at the House of the Lord in Akron.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.