When Shane Bradwell got out of jail in 2011, he knew he would have a hard time getting a job, so he decided to start a house-painting business. But he quickly ran into a roadblock: Massachusetts suspended his driver’s license, not because he was a bad driver, but because of his drug conviction.
That meant Bradwell had to balance scrapers and brushes and even a gallon or two of paint on his bike. On workday mornings, he peddled to the bus stop, hopped on the bus with all his gear, and traveled as far as he could. Then he unloaded all of his stuff, rearranged it on his bike, and rode the rest of the way to his job site.
Massachusetts last year joined the majority of states that have scaled back or scrapped laws that automatically suspend the driver’s licenses of people with drug convictions and often charge hefty fees to get them reinstated. Unfortunately for Bradwell, Massachusetts made the change after he had borrowed money to pay the $500 fee to get his license back.