Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Potential End of License Suspension for Drug Offenses


Recently, legislative activity has been ongoing within the Massachusetts State Senate and House. This legislation could lead to a change in the law regarding the potential consequences for an individual convicted of a drug offense. However, to this point, the Senate and House have disagreed as to what those consequences should be.

Importance of the Bill

The Massachusetts Senate originally passed a bill on September 24, 2015, with the house passing an amended version on January 6, 2016. However, the Senate did not like those changes. As a result, the Senate amended the bill again and readopted its original version. Specifically, the amendments retain provisions that eliminate a subsection of the law that require a person’s driver’s license to be suspended if that person is convicted of a drug offense. The amendments also instruct the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to reinstate the license or the right to operate a motor vehicle of anyone who has already had their license suspended under the current law. The change in the law would keep records related to the suspension and the underlying offense hidden from public access.

Finally, the amendments remove language the House placed in the bill that would require license suspension for five years if a person is convicted or adjudicated delinquent for drug trafficking under the Massachusetts laws. Additionally, House language was also removed that would have allowed a judge to determine whether a person under 18 years of age should be prohibited from acquiring a license for a period (but not past his or her 21st birthday) if convicted or adjudicated delinquent for a violation under the Massachusetts Controlled Substances Act.

The Senate and House also disagree as to what the effective date of the law (if passed) should be for people who had their license suspended in connection with a drug offense. The House would like the effective date to be July 1, 2016. However, the amendment changed the effective date back to the Senate’s original intent of 60 days after the bill’s enactment.

Next Steps

The bill now returns to the House where it will either be agreed to or not. If the bill is not agreed to by the House, a conference committee will be appointed in both the Senate and the House. The purpose of these committees will be to determine which sections of both versions of the bill will ultimately prevail. Once a final bill is completed, it will be sent to the Governor for signature and final approval.

Criminal Defense Help

While this bill could reduce some of the penalties for a drug offense, individuals will still face severe punishment for these crimes. As a result, if you have been charged with a drug offense, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. For more information, speak with Boston criminal defense attorney Edward R. Molari today. Call our office at 617-942-1532 to schedule a free consultation.