Local judge giving suspended drivers a second chance


GARFIELD HEIGHTS-– Even the best drivers get nervous when those flashing blue lights appear out of nowhere.

Monica McKellen of Cleveland says, "Your stomach drops, you try to see what you were doing and just try to prepare."

And once a traffic ticket is written, late fees for unpaid violations can lead to even bigger problems.

But inside the Garfield Heights Municipal Court, Judge Deborah Nicastro is offering to give violators a break.

She says, "I think everyone deserves a second chance. I mean, this isn't the kind of thing where we want to have the police running around arresting people because they didn't come in and pay their fines and costs. "

It’s called the Fresh Start program, specifically for people who have not paid their fines and court costs, and as a result, their driver’s license is suspended and an arrest warrant issued.

Judge Nicastro says, "We want the police to concentrate on serious crime. So this is an incentive for people to come in and do the right thing."

Once a $200 fee is paid to the clerk of court, the person will get a release for their driver’s license and a date to come back and set up a payment plan for any balance due.

And the fresh start is two-fold since Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s amnesty program is also in effect.

“And if you clear up all your other matters and come to them, they may suspend part of the reinstatement fees if you qualify,” said Judge Nicastro.

So, if you are one of the 3,000 people who may qualify in eight of the participating municipalities, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Brecksville, Cuyahoga Heights, Independence, Newburgh Heights, Valley View, this may be your lucky day.

But you better hurry! The program ends on July 31.

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