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New law eliminates license suspension for many drug crimes

Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation Wednesday repealing a 27-year-old law requiring a driver’s license suspension for those convicted of drug crimes, such as possession, that have nothing to do with driving.

Advocates say the suspensions have been a major impediment for former offenders trying to rebuild their lives. Without a license, it can be difficult to find work, take children to day care, and get to drug-treatment programs.

“As the Commonwealth takes important steps to battle substance abuse and reexamine our criminal justice system, I am pleased to sign legislation providing opportunities for those convicted of drug offenses, and who have served their time, to re-enter society, find and keep a job and support their families,” said Baker, in a statement.

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The legislation, embraced by law enforcement, passed both the House and Senate unanimously. It is widely seen as the opening salvo in a broader push to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system. Other proposals, like repealing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, face some opposition.


David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe