For many years now, people in New York who were convicted of any criminal drug offense have been subject to having their drivers’ licenses suspended. This was due to a federal regulation enacted in 1994 when the war on drugs was in its prime. States that failed to comply would lose some precious federal funds for highways. 

As reported by Forbes, however, there is a legal loophole that states could use to get around the required license suspension and New York recently took advantage of that. The Prison Policy Initiative and Clemency Project estimate that approximately 180,000 people lost their right to drive for a period of time between 2009 and 2015 after being convicted of drug crimes that had nothing whatsoever to do with driving.

The federal regulation made it very difficult for some people to keep or get jobs as they were suddenly devoid of any viable means of transportation. Taking care of their families or their own medical needs could also be problematic when a person is unable to drive.

By passing a resolution in the state legislature, New York will be able to cease blindly suspending drivers’ licenses for people after they are convicted of drugs crimes. The state also made amendments via its 2020 budget that pave the way for more people to become licensed in certain occupations even with criminal records. These jobs include insurance adjustors, bingo operators and notary publics. The goal is to give people more opportunities to put their lives back together after a criminal conviction.