Earning a driver’s license or regaining a suspended driver’s license has become easier as a result of a diversion program initiated by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office.
Started back in February 2011, the program educates people driving without a license on how to get one. Those driving with a suspended license are given information on how to get it back.
According to Bill Clark, who is the chief assistant district attorney of El Dorado County, the program doesn’t include people convicted of serious traffic violations. Instead “the majority of cases we deal with are cases where people have failed to appear. Those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or reckless or negligent drivers don’t qualify,” Clark said.
The DA first determines if a person is eligible for the program. If so, they are sent a letter telling them about the diversion program and the cost, which is $230 for a six-hour class. Fifty dollars of that goes to the DA and the remainder goes to Pacific Educational Services Inc., the company that runs the classes.
Once enrolled, people have 90 days to attend a class and finish it.
Walt Stockman, who is president of Pacific Educational Services, said many people lose their license because they have failed to pay fines related to moving or parking violations, an equipment failure, or for not paying child support.
He said people may not realize that they have to deal with several different agencies to get their license back, including traffic court, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and family court if unpaid child support is the issue.
“It can be a complicated process,” he said. “We go through the steps with people in the class of how to resolve the problem of losing a license. Sometimes people don’t know why their license has been suspended or how to access their criminal record and clear it.”
Stockman said that 60 percent of those going through the class eventually do get their license. “Sometimes it takes a long time to deal with these issues. And fines can be substantial for a failure to show. This course is cheaper if they can work out a deal to pay the tickets or fines.”
Asked about those driving without a license, Clark said that “a significant number of these people are illegal aliens. But the feds and state don’t care about illegal aliens.”
Currently Stockman said they have 30 people in the program from El Dorado County.
“The DA is a forward-looking individual trying to do the best job with the budget he has,” he said. “This is one way to be efficient and also increase public safety in the county. This program is better than anything else to get people back on the road and licensed.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or email@example.com. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.