Rep. Malia Champions Repeal of Law That Suspends Driver’s Licenses for Drug Offenders Whose Crimes Didn’t Involve Driving

The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to repeal a current law that automatically suspended driver’s licenses for drug offenses whose crimes didn’t even involve a motor vehicle.

“I proudly voted with my colleagues to repeal a 26-year-old state law that automatically suspends the driver’s license of anyone convicted of a drug offense,” said state Rep. Liz Malia, D-Jamaica Plain, chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health & Substance Abuse and the lead sponsor of the original bill. “Too often have I heard from individuals who are in recovery and unable to get a job or support family members because they cannot obtain a driver’s license. Fixing this outdated law removes the barrier and burden faced by thousands of Massachusetts residents who have served their time and are working hard to rebuild their lives. I commend the Speaker on his leadership and for his continued efforts to change how we view and treat those suffering from addiction.”

The bill requires the Register of Motor Vehicles to reinstate, issue, or renew the licenses of individuals who previously have had their licenses suspended under the law, and they won’t be subjected to a fee.

The bill also requires the RMV to shield driving records containing CORI information from public access, which would close an existing loophole that information protected through the CORI reform law remains private. The bill also includes language sponsored by members of the Republican caucus that preserves license suspensions for those convicted of trafficking in illegal drugs aside from marijuana.

The bill now goes to the state senate for consideration, which in September unanimously passed its version of the bill.