Partnership with OpenDoors will help reinstate licenses suspended due to unpaid fines and fees, missed court dates

From The Office Of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza:

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza was joined today by Providence City Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), OpenDoors Community Organizer Brandon Robinson, Pawtucket Municipal Court Chief Judge and President of the Municipal Court Judges Association Donna Nesselbush, Roger Williams University School of Law Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Andy Horwitz, Amos House Financial Coach Stephanie Jones Pringle, and RI State Representative David Morales (District 7) to announce a new Driver’s License Restoration program for Providence residents.

“Being able to drive is critical to so many people in our city, whether it’s getting a job, taking kids to childcare, or just accessing food and other essential items,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “We can, and should, help our residents get back on their feet, especially when the city has played a role in imposing fines and fees inequitably. I’m excited to partner with these dedicated community organizations to help residents restore their driver’s licenses and get on with the business of their everyday lives.”

OpenDoors, along with partners Amos House, the Pro Bono Collaborative at Roger Williams University (RWU) School of Law, the Rhode Island Center for Justice and the Center for Health and Justice Transformation (CHJT), was selected by the City through a request for proposals process to provide coordinated driver’s license reinstatement services for up to 600 Providence residents over a two year period. The program will provide case management, legal support and financial aid to Providence residents whose driver’s license was suspended as a result of a missed traffic court hearing, unpaid fines from municipal or state court and other monetary-related suspensions.

Through the program, care coordinators at OpenDoors and Amos House will work directly with the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles to help participants navigate the process of reinstating their license, providing guidance and resources such as financial aid for fines or license reinstatement fees. In some circumstances, legal assistance from licensed attorneys and law students will be provided through the RI Center for Justice and the RWU Pro Bono Collaborative.

“We are going to help hundreds of Providence residents that are stuck with suspended licenses and mountains of debt start driving again, start working again, and get home safe,” said Brandon Robinson, OpenDoors Community Organizer. “Four years ago, OpenDoors helped me get put on a payment plan and reinstate my license and it changed my life. I have worked full time since then, I earned my Bachelor’s degree, and now I’m studying for my Master’s. I’m excited we will be able to help so many others have the same opportunity.”

To be eligible for this program, applicants must be Providence residents and have incomes at or below 65% of the area median income. Applicants must also be eligible for identification documents, such as an ID, Social Security card or birth certificate, and provide proof of Providence residency. Unhoused individuals are eligible to apply for the program. In addition, applications will be evaluated for factors like financial need and ability to pay related expenses like car insurance. Applicants cannot qualify for this program if their license was suspended for a moving violation that resulted in a felony conviction.

“Driver’s license restoration is critical in removing barriers. License restoration fees are one of the hidden costs of being poor in our city – I have seen many men and women shut out of life-changing economic opportunities because of large accrued license restoration fines and fees. Thank you to Mayor Elorza, City Council, OpenDoors, and Amos House for putting federal funding to work to make lasting change in the lives of our residents – an impact that will be felt in our neighborhoods for years to come,” said Providence City Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13).

This program is funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which support economic recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on all American Rescue Plan programs and projects for the City of Providence can be found at https://pvdrescueplan.com/.

To learn more about this program and how to apply, visit www.PVDRescuePlan.Com/Apply. Interested applicants can also obtain a paper application from OpenDoors or Amos House.

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