After a state law passed during the 2019 session, a program aimed at having people pay off fines without losing their driver’s license has become permanent.
The Drivers Diversion Program (DDP) allows people with fines to keep driving while they pay them off.
In Morrison County, the program has been used since 2013 and is one of 142 cities and counties in the state using the program.
If a person has unpaid fines, speeding tickets, no insurance or other convictions that would cause their license to be suspended or revoked, they can enter the program and the Department of Public Safety (MnDPS) determines whether they can keep their license.
Not all cases are eligible, Assistant County Attorney Todd Chantry said.
Felony drug offenses, DWIs, fleeing police, criminal vehicular operation and other offenses disqualify people from the program.
The idea is to keep people from driving who, for very good reasons should not be on the road, Chantry said.
If MnDPS determines the individual meets criteria and Chantry accepts them into the diversion program, the person’s driving privileges are immediately restored.
This is much quicker than the usual way of doing things where fines must be paid before driving privileges are restored, Chantry said.
“It would take them years to get reinstated,” he said, if the person had fines in the thousands of dollars.
The person is put on a payment plan to pay back fines and placed in a driving class.
If a person does not follow the program’s conditions or has a new offense during the program, they may be kicked out of the program, Chantry said.
In his view, this program helps people get out of the cycle of driving, getting a conviction and losing their license before repeating, Chantry said.