Will Massachusetts end its harmful automatic driver’s license suspension policy?

by Leah Sakala, July 27, 2015

Massachusetts might be poised to join the ranks of states that have struck down one of the most puzzling collateral consequences of a prior drug conviction: an automatic driver’s license suspension.

Let me explain. For more than two decades Massachusetts law has required the automatic suspension of the driver’s licenses of everyone convicted of a drug offense — regardless of whether or not that offense involved driving or road safety. Then, if that wasn’t enough, this policy makes them wait at least six months and then charges them $500 to get their driving privileges back, a fee that many cannot afford.

As our research found, this license suspension policy makes our roads less safe, wastes taxpayer resources, and further destabilizes the lives of individuals with prior involvement in the criminal justice system.

Fortunately, the Massachusetts Legislature is currently considering a bill sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Liz Malia to end the automatic license suspension policy. We presented on the issue at a legislative briefing session earlier this year, and most recently submitted supportive written testimony when H.3039/S.1812 was up for a hearing before the Joint Committee on Transportation last week.

Stay tuned for updates as the bill moves forward!

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