Diversion program could restore licensesPeople who have lost their drivers licenses now have a program to help them get back on the road. It’s a program that crosses state lines in Duluth and Superior.
By: By Lucy Roberts/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
People who have lost their drivers licenses now have a program to help them get back on the road. It’s a program that crosses state lines in Duluth and Superior.
St. Louis County in Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin are using a new program to aid people who have had their licenses suspended or revoked. Superior Police Chief Charles LaGesse has high hopes for the program, which they have brought across the bridge.
“Through this program we hope that people can arrange payments so that they can make payments and get their license back immediately so they can stop driving suspended, and we can stop the cycle of writing tickets to the same people.”
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin calls it a commonsense way to help.
“One of the problems that we face today is that many people have their license suspended from driving after revocation or driving after suspension,” Rubin said. “They cannot afford to get their license back, and in the meantime, they go out and they continue to drive without a license, without insurance and get back into court. It’s a never-ending cycle.”
For a $350 fee, people can sign up for the program. Once they are accepted they take a course to create a payment plan for their fines and to work on getting their license back.
With roughly ten percent the driving population in each state operating vehicles without a license and millions of dollars owed in fines, Duluth Assistant City Attorney Cary Schmies says it’s important to help people with this process.
“The real nice part about this program is once they’re in the program, they’re issued a license,” Schmies said. “So they can drive now. They can go to work; they can take their kids to school. We’re talking about people in the metro that don’t have access to bus lines so they need to drive their cars.”
Diversion Solutions President Scott Adkisson says the pilot program has been helped about 3,000 people get their licenses back.
“The driving diversion program is the one-of-a-kind,” Adkisson said. “This has never been developed anywhere else in the United States. We actually have other states now calling the program and asking us to help them look at it also for implementing within their state. The cities of St. Paul and Duluth, and West St. Paul and Superior along with Douglas County and St. Louis County are very proactive in taking care of these individuals.”
The program does not assist those who have gross misdemeanors, felonies or warrants.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.