Clearing The Road For Ohioans With Suspended Licenses: A Look At Ohio’s Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Program


Program participants had an average of $789 in reinstatement fees reduced, and people who submitted proof of indigency had an average of $1,270 waived.

For drivers in Ohio, there are over 30 offenses, with penalties ranging from $15 to $600, that may trigger a license suspension. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) then charges additional fees to reinstate a driver’s license after the suspension conditions have been met. Such fees left hundreds and thousands of lower-income Ohioans without valid driver’s licenses, primarily due to their inability to pay a fine or fee.  In 2018, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill to create the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative, a pilot program allowing the BMV to reduce and waive eligible driver’s license reinstatement fees for lower-income Ohioans. It became a permanent program in 2020. Participants that received an amnesty reduction had their reinstatement fees reduced by over $72 million, and participants that received an amnesty waiver had over $12 million in reinstatement fees completely waived. 

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Key Findings:

  • Debt-based driver’s license suspensions burden Ohioans with an average total of outstanding debt each year of over $920 million.
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fees accounted for $390 million owed to the BMV on January 1, 2023.
  • 85 percent of participants with amnesty reduction plans paid their fees in full. 
  • Ohio collected $23 million from reduced fees during the pilot program.
  • Over 222,000 Ohioans saved $136,330,155 in reinstatement fees, averaging $612.12 per person savings.
  • $100 to $600 non-compliance suspensions–when a driver does not show proof of insurance at a traffic stop or at the time of an accident– accounted for 66 percent of all debt-related suspensions in 2020.


  • Eliminate the punitive nature of reinstatement fees by lowering them to $25.
  • End debt-based suspensions.
Ohio Poverty Law Center