Drug Suspensions

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles used to impose license suspensions ranging from one to five years in length for drug convictions, regardless of whether the drug offense involved a motor vehicle or not. As part of the “war on drugs,” Former Governor Michael Dukakis signed a law which required the Mass. RMV to impose automatic license losses for all drug convictions. Now, law enforcement organizations such as the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, the Massachusetts Attorney General, and the Mass. District Attorneys Association all oppose drug-related license suspensions.

Due, in part to the criminal justice reform movement, the drug suspension law has changed dramatically. Unless your driver’s license or right to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was suspended for trafficking in a Class A, B. or C Controlled Substance. Your it was suspended because of a trafficking in Fentanyl conviction, you can get your license reinstated without the payment of the previously required $500.00 reinstatement fee. You do no need to appear before the Board of Appeal to get reinstated.

If you your license or right to operate was suspended for trafficking in anything but Marijuana, you cannot apply for reinstatement under the law change. However, you can be considered for a hardship license or an early reinstatement of your full time license by appearing in-person before a Registry Hearings Officer or the Board of Appeal.

Except for the above-listed drug trafficking convictions, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles is now legally required to shield any evidence of drug-related suspensions, hearings, and reinstatements from your Massachusetts Driving Record. The obvious goal of this requirement is to prevent employers and other recipients of your driving record to use the drug convictions against you in employment and other situations. This has always been a problem because the Massachusetts Sealing Laws, G.L. c. 276 § 100A & B did not require the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to seal her records. Therefore, the conviction data was available to prospective employers even when the criminal and probation records had been sealed. The new law eliminates this problem. Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker signed the law into effect at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, March 30, 2016.