Individuals who are facing drug charges in Massachusetts often have many questions and concerns about their options and the penalties involved with a drug conviction. For many, a chief concern is not only the possibility of spending time behind bars, but also losing the ability to legally drive.
In 1989, at the height of the Reagan Administration’s War on Drugs, Massachusetts passed a law which called for the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license if he or she was convicted of a drug-related crime. The law included, and still does, all drug convictions; regardless of whether or not the alleged criminal act involved a motor vehicle.
During 2014 alone, a total of 5,431 people in the state had their driver’s licenses suspended after being convicted of drug crimes. While the law calls for the suspension and not revocation of an individual’s driver’s license, for many of those who are impacted, the fees associated with getting their licenses reinstated are too costly. This is often especially true when an individual has no other reliable means to get to and from work and may therefore be unable to find or keep a job.
Critics of the law argue that it is outdated and serves to further harm those individuals who are attempting to earn an income and support their families. Additionally, they contend that the law hampers the recovery efforts of those individuals who have serious drug addiction problems and may even increase relapse and recidivism rates. In response, activists and some prominent politicians have called for the law to be repealed, an action which Governor Charlie Baker recently indicated that he was “open to signing.”
A drug conviction can negatively impact an individual’s life, as well as the lives of his or her family members, in numerous ways. It’s crucial, therefore, that individuals who are facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges reach out to a criminal defense attorney for help.
Source: The Boston Globe, “Suspending licenses over drug crimes questioned: 1989 Mass. law leaves poorest unable to drive,” David Scharfenberg, Sept. 5, 2015