BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – All thirty-eight senators agree – suspending a convicted drug offender’s ability to drive also strips them of the opportunity to lead a productive life.
The Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously to repeal a decades old law aimed at punishing non-violent drug offenders. Right now, when someone’s convicted of a drug crime, the state suspends their driver’s license. The law is supposed to reduce repeat offenders, but Westfield Republican Don Humason believes it does just the opposite.
“We intended to be very punitive and punish people who are convicted of drug crimes, and now we’re making it so that they can’t get treatment. They can’t get off the public system,” said Humason.
It’s even more difficult for convicted drug offenders in Western Massachusetts to get back on their feet. The region lacks a complete public transportation system, so some people may need a driver’s license to find a job or to seek treatment. Repeal critics argue that the existing law sends a message that Massachusetts is tough on crime.
State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) told 22News, “We’re just saying that when they do get out of prison or when they’re off probation, they should be able to drive like anyone and it’s much more likely for them to be able to get a job.”
About 7,000 Massachusetts drivers get their licenses suspended each year for drug offenses. Most of those crimes don’t involve a car.
The bill now moves to the House.