Detroit at Work waives driver responsibility fees for getting career help

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Getting a job is tough enough and driver responsibility fees make it tougher.
But that's all about to change

"It was getting to a point where either I paid my fees or I paid my rent or I paid daycare for my son," said Breanna Stephens.

"There's no way in this world I would've been able to pay that $4,000 off this year or even next year probably," said Ameer Jacobs. "With bills, a household, I'm married, have a family and $4000 doesn't just fall in your lap."

Help fell into their laps where money didn't.  This is all thanks to the program called Detroit at Work, which is helping solve a problem for people wanting work and employers looking to hire Detroiters.  

One of the biggest roadblocks in Detroit is people losing their licenses because of driver responsibility fees that pile up. About 76,000 Detroit residents have them.  The average responsibility fee hovers at just above $1,500.  

For Breanna Stephens it's not just about her, it's about her 3-year-old Emett. 

"You don't want to be in a car with a child driving around without a license because there is a fear you will be pulled over and you can get arrested and then where does your child go? That is very scary," she said.

Starting in October the driver responsibility fee will be eliminated in the state of Michigan. It's not fair to slap this fine on people trying to better their lives.   So the program Detroit at Work took a note from that page and decided to waive the fees if Detroiters signed up for career counseling and job placement opportunities. 

"Not only did they clear my record, they trained me in order to be in society for a well-paying job," Jacobs said. "It's a win-win! there is no minus in this."

 Ameer Jacobs is being trained on blight removal services in Detroit and the training is free.  On top of that his $4,000 driver responsibility fee disappears as fast as the first house he's being trained to knock down. 
Ashley Griesert is in a similar situation. 

"I had a few parking tickets and traffic violations and I owed like $1500," she said. "I paid some down and then when I learned of the program, they paid off $800. And that was a huge relief because I've been trying to get my driver’s license back."

Her driver’s license is more than just a license to drive. It's a license to love her life the way she wants.  Even after the state forgives the fees, you'll still have the chance to take part in the job program. 

"That's anything from truck driving to CNA nursing positions," said Rachel Zuckerman of Detroit at Work. "And after October 1st, all of that will continue to be available."

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