Road to Reinstatement given grant money for driver maneuverability

A local judge said suspending a person’s license over debt can be a vicious cycle of poverty.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 8:06 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A local judge says suspending a person’s driver’s license over debt can cause a vicious cycle of poverty.

Toledo municipal court judge Michelle Wagner is teaming up with Toledo Public Schools to help citizens get back on the road.

Judge Wagner says clients who come in her courtroom are fighting driver’s license suspensions due to debt.

“Meaning they could not afford to pay court fines, or they got behind the child support or they couldn’t afford DMV fines. So the state of Ohio suspends a driver’s license for debt,” Judge Michelle Wagner said.

She says 3 million people in Ohio are under suspension.

“It prohibits them from getting to work, or their ability to get their children to school. For people who live in food, deserts prohibit them from getting out from their neighborhood to get to a grocery store,” the judge said.

In 2013 she created a program called The Road to Reinstatement

She says she helps people work through the red tape to get a valid driver’s license. She gives them packages so they don’t have to sort through 75 online documents.

Once they pay off debt or payment plans they have to take the maneuverability test.

“So, if you fail this test it is a significant cost. It’s a significant delay. It’s a significant hassle and it’s unnecessary if you practice you will pass,” Wagner said.

She said people who come to court can’t get to outlying areas like Clay, Maumee, Anthony Wayne and Springfield high schools to practice.

The Greater Toledo Community Foundation provided her with grant money to buy 150 cones to place in Toledo.

“So our citizens have equal opportunity to pass this test,” Wagner said.

She has also teamed up with Toledo Public Schools which will provide school parking lots for free practice spots.

TPS will have courses at Bowsher High School, Rogers High School, Start High School and Scott Park.

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