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Massachusetts is one of several states that suspends a person’s driver’s license after a conviction for minor drug offenses even though the conviction is not motor vehicle related.   On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, Governor Baker signed a bill repealing the 26 year old law of automatic license suspensions and the $500 reinstatement fee for some drug crimes not related to the operation of a motor vehicle.

The legislation, St.2016, c.64, An Act Relative to Motor Vehicle Licenses Suspension, provides certain exceptions for drug trafficking convictions and takes effect immediately, except as provided for in Section 7.  The goal of the act is to provide an easier transition for drug offenders who are considered minor offenders to re-enter society after serving their time.

Section 4 of the Act:

The registrar of motor vehicles shall reinstate, issue or renew the license or right to operate a motor vehicle, without fee, of any person whose license or right to operate a motor vehicle has been suspended under subsection (f) of section 22 of chapter 90 of the General Laws, if the person is otherwise entitled to such reinstatement, issuance or renewal.

Several Legislators expressed support for the bill saying the old law was too harsh and did not facilitate a successful re- entry for a prisoner. Restoring the right to drive allows the offender a significant chance of securing employment and supporting their families.

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