Judge Issues Lifetime License Suspension for Reckless Teen Driver
After 17-year-old Lyle Topa of Charlestown, R.I. wrecked his car during a drag race last year, injuring his three passengers, a local judge didn’t just suspend his license — he suspended it for life.
During a sentencing hearing last week, Judge William Guglietta cited alcohol, excessive speed and texting while driving as consistent issues among teen drivers and said, “I’ve had it. The time has come for a change in attitude towards our young people driving.”
But across the state border in Massachusetts, lawmakers said the judge went too far. They’ve instituted 90-day suspensions for first-time speeders and up to three years for drag racers, which they feel is sufficient.
“I think [the lifetime ban] is a little harsh,” said state Sen. Robert Hedlund, (R-Weymouth). “The kid might mature and actually be a responsible driver. I don’t know how you can take it away from a kid that age forever. What’s he going to do … bike for the rest of his life?”
And while David DeIuliis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts state office for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said he felt Guglietta’s “heart is in the right place,” he doesn’t believe license suspension is an effective deterrent.
“I think generally speaking what we know about license suspensions, they don’t work,” he said. “But based on some of the performances of judges here, it’s nice to see a judge in a neighboring state take the issue very seriously.”