Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District


September 25, 2015

Senate Passes Motor Vehicle License Suspension Bill

(Boston) – Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed S.2014, “An Act relative to motor vehicle license suspension.”

This bill repeals the current law that subjects individuals convicted of a non-violent drug offense to an automatic license suspension for up to five years and a license reinstatement fee of $500, even if the offense does not involve motor vehicles in any way.  Thirty-four states, including every other New England state, have already taken action to repeal similar laws.

The bill would have no effect on license suspension penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and only removes the outdated state requirement that penalizes every drug offense with a license suspension, even for non-driving offenses.  The bill will also allow anyone previously subject to this provision to have their license reinstated without a fee.

“Right now, Massachusetts has a system in place that suspends a person’s license for an offense that isn’t related to driving at all,” said Senator Joan Lovely. “Breaking the law has consequences, but after a person pays his/her debt to society, the focus should be on making sure that person turns his/her life around. With the passage of this bill, the turnaround is easier because a person would retain his/her license and be able to get to a job or to a treatment facility and become a positive contributor in the community.”

Currently, driving records include non-driving license suspensions and prospective employers can purchase warrants from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) for under $10.  This can be used as a “back door CORI” check, where employers purchase RMV records for the purpose of obtaining information about criminal records, even if they would normally be sealed, expunged, or shielded by CORI reform.

The bill prevents these checks, which harm the chances of employment for individuals convicted of a drug offense, and shields driving records revealing CORI information from public view.  However, information would still be available to RMV employees and others with a legitimate need for access.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.