Note: This is a real story, written by a real person. Please be aware of potential triggers around substance use, incarceration of a parent, and traffic stops in this piece. To share your story, click here.
The Driving with License Suspended (DLS) Program has made a tremendous difference in my life. I think it's important that you know how I grew up to fully understand how big this actually is for me. My father is and always has been an alcoholic. He had no license or insurance and used fake inspection stickers. He went to jail a few times. He was the person I never wanted to be like. My mom tried so hard to keep us afloat. She also drove without a license, but it was because she didn't get her license until I was a teenager.
I was so happy when I got my license at 16. I could work more to help support my family. At that point, my father had disappeared, and I needed to be there for my younger sister.
As a teen driver, you feel like you can test the limits, right? Well, I did that. That year, I got a speeding ticket. I was so overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t go to my parents, so I tossed the ticket in hopes it would simply go away.
I found out I was pregnant in 2005. Yikes! I was driving after work and got pulled over. Turns out, the tickets didn’t just disappear. I had been driving with a suspended license, and I got ticketed for it. Again, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t even know how much trouble I was really in.
I continued to drive, but I would only drive during the day, keeping an eye out for officers. In 2020, I saw a car accident. A father and son needed to get back home during an ice storm, and I couldn’t just leave them there. I used my fiancé's van to give them a ride. Heck even if an officer runs the plates, it isn't my name, so I'm good...right?
Well, I hit some ice, the van crossed the yellow lines, and an officer pulled me over. So, I started driving less often, always anxious behind the wheel.
Then, I was driving my kids to their favorite grocery store —a treat for them since we hadn’t been there since the pandemic started. A trooper pulled behind me and my anxiety spiked. I knew that I couldn't handle anything else financially. I was so mad at myself! The trooper was direct with me, but he also took the time to understand that I just didn't know what I was going to do.
This is the exact moment that changed everything.
The trooper told me he was going to send me to Court Diversion. He said an employee would email me in the next few days. Maghon Luman emailed me the following day! I was given the exact steps I needed to be a legal driver. In my head I knew that I was only one stop away from getting arrested, but I also knew I was in control of my next steps. I did what I was told to do. I got my permit. I got my license!
Then, the devastating news that I had too many points and would lose my license again. It did bounce in my mind that maybe it wasn't worth it, but then I thought about how this program helped me get to where I needed to be. I didn't drive during this suspension; I paid the reinstatement fee. I didn't drive again until after I called the DMV and was told that I am legally allowed to drive.
I'm a licensed driver. I get to be the passenger that helps my 15-year-old learn to drive. I now drive without caring if there's a police officer behind me. I feel absolutely free. I want to say thank you. Thank you for not just throwing tickets at me. Thank you for taking the time to explain the program.
Thank you for giving me the chance to come out of my family's shadow!