Kentwood, MI – First-time Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) offenders in Kentwood will now have the opportunity to use a free online program provided by the 62B District Court to restore their license and interact online with the city attorney to negotiate a better outcome for their case.
Suspension of driving privileges has been used for decades as a punitive measure against those with poor driving behaviors, such as drunk driving or multiple moving violations.
Forty percent of suspensions are for offenses that have nothing to do with unsafe driving; they are for failing to pay a minor traffic or parking ticket or for some other minor offense (according to a 2013 report from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Best Practices Guide for Reducing Suspended Drivers download here). Many, particularly those in socio-economically challenged circumstances, risk driving on a suspended license and may not even know their license was suspended. Then, when caught driving with a suspended license, they are charged with misdemeanor DWLS.
Those are the cases the program aims to help. As permitted by Michigan law, prosecuting attorneys may offer a plea deal to first offenders where unsafe driving behavior is not involved. Getting the license unsuspended is usually a condition of the deal.
“This program streamlines the process of communicating with the court and the city attorney as much as possible by taking it online and providing ample educational material and guidance on what needs to be done,” said Judge William G. Kelly.
Eligible people will be informed about the program at their arraignment. They will have a certain amount of time to get their suspension(s) lifted and their license restored. Throughout the process, litigants receive emails and text messages to provide reminders and updates on the status of their case. After that, the prosecutor will review their case and record online, and will consider offering a plea deal. If the individual chooses to accept the deal, they can do so online, without ever appearing in court. By resolving these matters online, prosecutors and members of the public are able to reduce or eliminate in-person pre-trial conferences, significantly cutting back on the court’s and the city attorney’s workloads and saving members of the public multiple trips to court.
The online program, called Matterhorn by Court Innovations, offers modules to dispute or negotiate a variety of other routine case types as well, including parking, other traffic infractions, small claims cases, and more.
Motorists charged with a DWLS ticket in Kentwood can visit www.courtinnovations.com/MID62B to resolve the matter online. For additional information, please contact Michele White, Court Administrator at 616.554.0715.