WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — According to Sedgwick County officials, driving without proper identification is risky and illegal, and hundreds of thousands of Kansans have suspended licenses.
The Wichita Bar Association, Kansas Legal Services, and the City are all working on programs that get people back to driving legally.
“People take calculated risks every day with driver’s licenses,” said attorney Robert Moody, a Martin Pringle Law Firm partner.
The numbers are astounding.
“There are over 200,000 Kansans with suspended driver’s licenses,” said Moody.
Deputy District Attorney Aaron Breitenbach says fines play a significant role.
“The vast majority are unpaid tickets,” said Breitenbach.
In May of 2021, Kansas passed Senate Bill 127.
“That allows judges to modify, waive or reduce court costs, fines, or reinstatement fees related to tickets,” said Moody. “Prior to the legislation court could not do so, so this is a big deal.”
A driver’s license clinic starting in May is helping push suspended drivers back into legal status.
“You don’t pay a ticket; two things happen, a warrant is issued, and the license is suspended, and that’s how the snowball starts,” said Moody.
Fines with late fees make it harder for the violator to pay.
“They were just mounting up, and they just got out of hand,” said Doneesha Muldrow, who is working on getting her license reinstated.
She says once she didn’t have a license, she realized its importance.
“It’s the job opportunities that I missed out on, and it wasn’t necessarily a driving job, but I needed the license,” said Muldrow. “It’s stressful, it’s embarrassing, you feel like a burden to your family and friends,”
She started a Driver’s License Clinic in December of 2021 and is now repaying her reduced fees.
Breitenbach says it’s a win-win for cities and counties.
“In some ways, programs like this actually increase revenue for the county because if you make it a number that is attainable, people are likely going to pay it,” said Breitenbach.
“At the end of the day, we want people with valid DL driving on the street,” said Moody.
Muldrow says she’s looking forward to the day she can drive again.”
“It’s exciting. It’s like being 16 again, getting a license,” said Muldrow.
People whose suspension is only because of fines can apply for a restricted license.
“If you are suspended simply because of failure to pay fines, you can get a restricted license to get to and from work,” said Breitenbach.
Applications for the clinic are being accepted through April 18, and the program starts in May.
For more information about the clinic, click here.