Post Date: June 5, 2014
The state Senate recently passed its budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (July 2014 through June 2015). We are delighted to report that the bill includes an amendment that would end the automatic suspension of a drug offender’s driver’s license upon conviction. This is great news! The current law makes it harder for drug offenders to get back on their feet after serving their time. They need to drive to work and school and to meet family obligations.
FAMM joined many other groups, including the Jobs Not Jails coalition, in pushing for this amendment. When the Senate was debating the budget last month, FAMM sent a letter to every senator, asking them to support this common sense change to the law. Now we need YOUR HELP to finish the job!
What happens next? The House FY 2015 budget that was passed in April is different from the Senate’s FY 2015 budget – it does not include language repealing the driver’s license suspension law. The House and Senate must agree on a final budget to pass and send to the Governor to sign. So a conference committee – three senators and three representatives – was just appointed to work out a compromise FY 2015 budget. We need to make sure that the conference committee keeps the Senate language to end driver’s license suspensions for drug offenses.
Contact your legislators! Please send a message to both your state representative and your state senator. Ask them to tell the conference committee to include the driver’s license suspension amendment in the final budget. Then forward this message to five friends or relatives. Legislators change the law when voters demand it.
When would the amendment take effect? Massachusetts first passed the law to automatically suspend drug offenders’ driver’s licenses in order to receive certain federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, states can “opt out” of the federal requirement and 33 states have already done so. The amendment would take effect 60 days after Gov. Patrick notifies the Department of Transportation that Massachusetts has decided to opt out, too. In addition to repealing the driver’s license suspension law, the amendment would also seal all Registry of Motor Vehicles records about prior suspensions.
Different route but same destination. If this issue sounds familiar, it’s because we told you about bills to repeal the driver’s license law back in September. FAMM testified before the legislature’s Transportation Committee in support of the bills. Unfortunately, the bills never made it out of committee. But the budget process gives legislators another way to reach the same goal.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Barbara J. Dougan
Massachusetts Project Director
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)
Contact FAMM’s Massachusetts Project:
By phone: (617) 543-0878
By email: email@example.com
By mail: P.O. Box 54, Arlington, MA 02476