City officials approve funding for DRIVE Program

City officials approve funding for DRIVE Program
February 19
13:37 2020

Earlier this week the Winston-Salem City Council approved a resolution allocating $275,000 in funding to support the expansion of the driver’s license restoration program, better known as the DRIVE (Driver Restoration Initiative and Vocational Expansion) Program. 

The District Attorney’s Office initially began a driver’s license restoration program in 2015 with the purpose of giving the city’s financially challenged or low-to-moderate income citizens an opportunity to have their driver’s licenses restored. Since then, the program has helped nearly 2,000 people restore their licenses, but there is still work to be done. 

A 2018 study found that “clean slate clinic participants experience significant increase in average employment rates and average real earnings.” It has also been reported that 1,900 job categories require a driver’s license. According to City Councilmember James Taylor, who is publisher of The Chronicle, there are 18,000 people in Forsyth County who don’t have their driver’s license because they can’t afford to pay minor traffic fines. The DRIVE Program will not address charges that involve violence, DWI, school bus traffic violations, hit and run violations, and/or sex offenders.

“There are 18,000 people here who do not have their driver’s licenses for lack of paying fees and fines. So this will get people back on the streets working outside of their communities,” Taylor continued. “I posted this on social media and this received a groundswell of support so there’s a lot of people out here who feel like they don’t have their licenses and they need to get back to work.”

Forsyth County Clerk of Court Renita Thompkins-Linville also spoke in support of expanding the program. Thompkins-Linville said expanding the program will break down economic barriers that can impede one’s ability to be successful. She said, “I think this project is going to help many of our citizens with economic income. 

“Most of the citizens who are in this position are what we call the ‘working poor’. These are people who have to make a decision between paying the rent or paying these expensive ticket fees that they have accumulated, or paying for daycare or buying food.  We’re helping people to get back on their feet, so I wholeheartedly support this project.”

When it came time to vote on the resolution, it was approved unanimously.

According to city officials, the $275,000 allocated to the DRIVE program will be used to hire dedicated staff for the program, operating expenses, marketing and outreach over an 18-month period. Assistance from the city would support a legal assistant, assistant district attorney, and an administrative clerk. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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