BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts residents could soon be sharing the road with convicted drug dealers and users. House lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that would allow people convicted of minor drug crimes to keep their driver’s license when they’re released from jail.
State Representative Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield) told 22News, “We are going to be supporting the right for folks to have their license reinstated after they’ve done their time.”
The bill would only apply to non-violent drug crimes that don’t involve a car, such as possession of marijuana or cocaine. House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) admits that drug dealers and traffickers could qualify under the bill’s requirements.
“If they now have their license once they get out, maybe that will make life a little bit easier in terms of them finding gainful employment,” said Speaker DeLeo.
These low-level drug offenders are stripped of their driver’s license for up to five years, making it that much tougher for them to find a job and to better their life. It would also help convicted drug offenders living in Western Massachusetts, a region that lacks both a reliable public transportation system and job opportunities.
“In our neck of the woods, people are more reliant upon having that license so I think this bill will go a long way towards helping people that want to get back on their feet,” said State Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren).
Senate lawmakers will now have the opportunity to make their changes to the bill.