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Gov. Northam stops in Roanoke to help affected Virginians obtain driver's license

ROANOKE, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam and local lawmakers are helping people get back behind the wheel and back to work.

Northam visited the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority Tuesday to promote the new effort to reinstate driver's license for Virginians. 

Virginia law changed to stop courts from suspending someone's driving license based on failure to pay court fines and costs. As of July 1, anyone whose driving privilege had been suspended for that single reason had his or her driving privilege reinstated and the associated reinstatement fee waived. 

"It's really common sense when you get right down to it. If someone is expected to pay their court fees and fines they have to work. And if they don't have their driver's license they can't drive to work." said Northam.

Mayor Sherman Lea says it will help the economy in Roanoke by putting people back to work.

"Coming from the criminal justice system I see so many people who are taken out of our system by the fact they can't drive. They are sentenced and told to keep a job and yet they can't get to the job," said Lea. 

The DMV is extending hours for the next two Saturday's in July to accommodate the amount of people coming in reinstate their license.  

The following offices will close at 2 p.m. instead of noon on Saturday, July 6,and Saturday, July 13: 
Newport News
Norfolk/Widgeon Road
Richmond Central
Tysons Corner
Virginia Beach/Buckner

Customers will be able to complete all transactions during the extended hours except for knowledge and road testing; tickets will only be issued for testing until 11:30 a.m. to give customers sufficient time to complete their tests. DMV has sent letters to Virginians whose driving privileges were suspended for failure to pay court fines and costs to advise them of any specific requirements needed to obtain their driver's licenses.

The change only affects a person's ability to get his or her driver's license. It does not eliminate the requirement to pay the underlying court costs and fines. Additionally, Virginians whose driving privileges are suspended or revoked for  other  reasons in  addition  to  failure  to  pay  court  fines  and  costs will  need  to  meet  any  other  court  or  DMV requirements, including payment of reinstatement fees, to regain their driving privileges.

About the Author:

Irisha joined the WSLS news team in January 2017 after spending four years as a reporter in Georgia.