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Racial profiling board to help suspended drivers get legal

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Wichita’s Racial Profiling Advisory Board will sponsor an event Saturday to help people who have had their driver’s licenses suspended get back on the road.

The workshop at Wichita’s Atwater Neighborhood Resource Center will assist once and future motorists in applying for a restricted driver’s license while they pay off fines that got their license taken away.

Since hundreds of people living in Wichita have had their license suspended for failure to pay traffic fines, this is a major problem.

Walt Chappell, vice chairman Wichita Racial Profiling Advisory Board

“Since hundreds of people living in Wichita have had their license suspended for failure to pay traffic fines, this is a major problem, especially for low-income and black drivers who need to legally drive to work and/or take care of their families in our metropolitan community,” board Vice Chairman Walt Chappell said in an e-mail. “They are essentially placed under ‘house arrest’ because they do not have enough money to pay the traffic fine, plus high Municipal Court costs.”

Driving without a license can lead to bigger fines, impoundment of the car and even arrest and jail, Chappell said. Restricted licenses have been allowed since a state law was passed in 2013.

Drivers suspended for nonpayment of fines can pay $25 to apply for a restricted license that allows driving to and from work, school, medical appointments, emergency medical services, probation or parole meetings, drug and alcohol treatment and court appearances.

The restricted license is good for one year, allowing the motorist to pay off the outstanding fines a little at a time, rather than in a lump sum, which is difficult for low-income people, said Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, a sponsor of the measure.

Saturday’s restricted-license workshop will feature a representative from the state Department of Revenue who will explain the program and how to apply. Applications and the $25 fee will be accepted on site, organizers said.

The workshop will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Atwater Center, 2755 E. 19th St. N., Wichita.

For more information, call the Racial Profiling Advisory Board at 316-371-0013.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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