Ending needless driver's license suspensions

Major victories
Research and resources
News and editorials

Losing one's driver's license is an unexpectedly harsh punishment: Getting to work and taking care of loved ones can be impossible without a car. But every year, states suspend hundreds of thousands of driver’s licenses for low-level offenses that didn't even involve driving. We’re helping these states change course.

In 2014, we launched a campaign to end driver’s license suspensions for drug offenses unrelated to driving. Today, this harmful policy persists in only four states. And in 2019, we joined the Free to Drive campaign to end laws suspending driver’s licenses for nonpayment of fines and fees.

See our research and read about our victories below:

Major victories

  • In 2016, Massachusetts passed a law to end driver’s license suspensions for non-serious drug offenses unrelated to driving. The change was spurred by our 2014 report Suspending Common Sense in Massachusetts, in which we found that suspending the licenses of 7,000 state residents every year for drug offenses was ineffective and harmful.
  • Since we published our national report Reinstating Common Sense in 2016, Pennsylvania, Utah, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Michigan have ended driver's license suspensions for drug offenses that didn't involve driving.
  • Our research and advocacy continues to keep this issue in the press, maintaining pressure on states that resist reform. For a selection of our press coverage, see the news section of this page.

Research and resources

Fact sheets about the four states that still suspend driver's licenses for drug offenses unrelated to driving:

Massachusetts probation report thumbnailReinstating Common Sense: How driver's license suspensions for drug offenses unrelated to driving are falling out of favor
by Joshua Aiken
December 2016

Our national report finds that more than 190,000 driver's licenses are suspended every year for non-driving drug offenses, breaks down the problem by state, and illustrates why this policy sets people up to fail.

Video explainer

Aleks Kajstura explains why states should stop punishing safe drivers for drug offenses unrelated to driving.

Press coverage and editorial support

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