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SOS-led public-private partnership growing, helping Michiganders regain driver's license, boosting state's economy
May 31, 2023
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – Today at the 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was joined by Lansing Mayor Andy Schor and representatives from DTE Energy and Miller Canfield to announce the growth of the successful Road to Restoration program, a public-private partnership that helps Michiganders regain their driver’s license, helps Michigan businesses find qualified employees, and strengthens the state’s economy.
Benson also announced that three new mobile Secretary of State offices will hit the road this summer, serving the Great Lakes Bay region, Northern Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula. The new mobile offices will expand the reach of the Road to Restoration program while delivering other needed services directly to communities.
“In the last year, the Department of State and our great partners in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors have helped thousands of Michiganders take the necessary steps to regain their driver’s license,” said Secretary Benson. “This program is supporting families, businesses and our economy because it is a true public-private partnership and we’re looking for additional business, organization, and municipal leaders who want to join the initiative, create jobs and build our economy.”
In 2021, changes to state laws lifted driver’s license suspensions for more than 150,000 Michiganders who failed to pay court fees or appear in court for many non-moving and other violations. The vast majority of those affected need to take further action before they can regain their driver’s licenses.
At Road to Restoration clinics, Department of State staff and volunteer attorneys provide expert one-on-one assistance understanding and navigating each person’s case, as well as immediate access to driving records and other Secretary of State office services to help participants learn what they need to do to get back behind the wheel.
Since its launch in 2022, the Road to Restoration program has assisted more than 5,200 Michiganders at 23 clinics in 14 cities including Detroit, Taylor, Flint, Saginaw, Lansing, Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Alpena. Hundreds of participants have fully restored their driving privileges, while others learned the additional steps they need to take and left with a plan to return to the road. In 2023, the growing program will visit new locations in the Lower and Upper Peninsula to serve more Michigan residents.
Benson shared the potential the program holds for Michigan’s economy – if just one-third of the 150,000 people eligible to regain their licenses were to purchase vehicles, they would increase state revenues by approximately $300 million in the next decade through state fees and gas taxes. These Michiganders would likely generate millions more in additional economic activity once they could drive to jobs, shopping, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
“Access to a driver’s license is a crucial leg-up for anyone looking to rejoin the workforce or find financial security in their community, and restoring licenses further enriches the potential talent pool for local employers,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel. “The Road to Restoration program is a great example of public-private partnership that makes a difference in peoples’ lives and livelihoods, and our department is proud to partner with the Department of State on this program.”
“Driver’s license restoration is one of the keys to people being able to be active citizens and productive members of communities,” said City of Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. “A driver’s license not only helps to get a car and use it for needed transportation, but it also ensures that people can get services they need. A person’s form of identification is very important to them being able to live their best lives. Lansing was proud to put dollars into driver’s license restoration and reduce fines and fees, and it was exciting to join the Secretary of State staff as they organized assistance for Lansing-area residents to get this important tool back!”
The City of Lansing paid court fees and transportation costs for city residents attending the Road to Restoration clinic hosted there last month, significantly increasing the number of residents able to restore their licenses at the clinic. Benson said she’s hoping additional partners similarly provide this extra support to residents statewide as the program grows in the months ahead.
“We’re excited to be part of the dynamic group built by Secretary Benson and Attorney General Nessel that’s supporting our fellow Michiganders in restoring their driver’s licenses, said JoAnn Chávez, DTE senior vice president and chief legal officer. “At DTE, we saw a pattern of people being held back by not having a license, which limits their ability to work, care for their families and fully engage in their communities. We jumped in to support the Road to Restoration initiative and are proud of what we achieved so far together.”
“We are honored to continue our support of the Road to Restoration clinics throughout the State of Michigan,” said Wendy Richards, Miller Canfield Detroit resident director, principal and pro bono counsel. “Having a driver’s license can be the ticket to a better job, educational opportunities and the ability to care for our families. It’s incredibly rewarding to use our unique legal skills to open pathways to success in the communities where we live and work.”
“The Michigan Association of United Ways is incredibly proud to support the Road to Restoration program in Michigan,” said Hassan Hammoud, president and CEO of the Michigan Association of United Ways. “This program exemplifies the impact we can have when corporate, nonprofit, and government agencies come together to identify and address issues impacting Michigan communities. The Road to Restoration program helps Michigan residents in a meaningful and measurable way - reducing barriers ALICE families face on their journey to gainful employment and self-sufficiency.”
“The Detroit Justice Center supports this collaboration as the clinics offer solutions for ‘real life’ legal issues with the one-on-one personal review of an attendee’s driving record safely and confidentially,” said Rubina Mustafa, Detroit Justice Center senior staff attorney. “After each discussion, clinic participants learn the steps they must take and what to expect along their journey engaging with government agencies. This work is deeply rewarding as it alleviates the driver’s confusion and frustration, which is well worth the hard work and preparation that the clinics entail.”
“2-1-1 has supported Michiganders in learning more about Road to Restoration clinics and through scheduling clinic appointments the past two years,” said Jennie Pollak, interim executive director of Michigan 2-1-1. “We recognize how instrumental these clinics are in helping residents on the path to restore their driver’s license and are glad to be able to help connect individuals with this life-changing service.”
As the Department of State and partners work to make the Road to Restoration program even better, Secretary Benson announced that three new mobile offices based out of Flint, Gaylord and Marquette will launch this summer. Mobile offices play a critical role in providing Secretary of State services at Road to Restoration clinics. The new offices join a fleet that currently serves Southeast Michigan, Mid-Michigan, and West Michigan. In addition to Road to Restoration clinics, all mobile offices visit senior centers, homeless shelters, rural areas, and other communities with limited internet access.
The next Road to Restoration clinic will be June 21 in Detroit and online pre-registration is now open. Additional clinics are scheduled this year in Mount Pleasant, Alpena, Traverse City, Escanaba, Marquette, and Sault Ste. Marie.
For more information about the program visit Michigan.gov/RoadtoRestoration or dial 2-1-1.
Road to Restoration clinics do not provide DUI/OWI expungement services and license reinstatement isn’t guaranteed.
VIDEO: Road to Restoration program is making a difference in Michigan
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