FILE - Interstate traffic jan

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced the timeline for the reinstatement of driver’s licenses for people who had their licenses suspended solely because of an inability to pay court costs and fines.

Drivers will be able to begin the process of getting their licenses back July 1.

“Earlier this year, I was proud to sign legislation to ending the counterproductive practice of suspending driving privileges for failure to pay court fines and costs,” Northam said in a news release. “I appreciate the hard work taking place at the DMV now to ensure that starting July 1, hundreds of thousands of impacted Virginians will be able to move their lives forward.”

The legislation does not lift the requirement to pay court costs and fines, but only lifts this specific punishment. Drivers who had their license suspended for other reasons in addition to not paying court fines will not be eligible to have their license reinstated

“It is long overdue that Virginia end its inequitable practice of suspending driving privileges for failure to pay court fines and costs,” Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said in the news release. “This is a significant step in the right direction toward getting Virginians back to work and enabling them to support their families.”

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has begun crafting language for letters that will be sent out to the people who are eligible to have their licenses reinstated.

Matthew Butner, a spokesperson for the DMV, said letters will go out to about a half of a million Virginians to inform them of the new rules, including those who are not eligible for reinstatement because they had their license suspended for other things in addition to the failure to pay court fees. Out of that half million, 238,847 will be eligible to have their licenses reinstated.

Most of the eligible Virginians will need to visit their local DMV to take care of certain procedural issues in order to get their license back. These would be Virginians whose license has expired or have not proven legal presence to the DMV since Jan. 1, 2004.

Customers who have proven legal residence and do not have an expired license will not be required to visit the DMV as long as they are still in possession of their license. Their licenses will become valid July 1 without any additional action to take. If they lost their license, they can apply for a new license online or at the DMV.

Each letter will be catered to the person’s individual situation.

The DMV expects that it will be busier than normal in the summer months and encouraged drivers to use the website or mail for services if possible.


Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia, Ohio and Michigan for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.