Thousands of driver’s license suspensions issued by Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court will be lifted this month, mostly because of the efforts of an ex-con who bucked the legal system while he was behind bars, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A state appeals court ruled that Juvenile Court judges cannot suspend a driver’s license beyond a person’s 21st birthday and limited their authority to collect fines not paid by an offender’s 21st birthday. The ruling will free an estimated 6,600 adults in Northeast Ohio and thousands more across the state, to reapply for a driver’s license.
Two attorneys helped Rodney Keffer, 30, win the court order that can be used to force juvenile courts across the state to lift license suspensions on adults. “This will help thousands of Ohioans, many of them impoverished, to get their licenses,” said one lawyer. Most of the people affected by indefinite juvenile court suspensions were or are poor and unable to pay the fines. Without a driver’s license, it is much more difficult to get a job. “The damage to young adults unable to obtain a valid driver’s license is well-documented,” Judge Sean Gallagher wrote.