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Drunk Driving: Teen's Driver’s License Permanently Revoked

A Rhode Island teen recently had his driver's license revoked for the rest of his life after becoming involved in a serious auto accident, reported ABC News. The judge's decision is receiving attention in the national press, but was justified by the judge as being appropriate given the severity of the situation.

“Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States,” explained California personal injury attorney James Ballidis, “and alcohol contributes to many of them.”

Teen drivers in California and throughout the United States are expected to behave with a reasonable level of care and caution behind the wheel. Like adults, when teens break the law, they can be held accountable and face consequences for their careless driving. Teens who drive recklessly, for instance, may face criminal charges. In addition, because of zero tolerance policies, when a teen consumes any alcohol before driving, he or she may face DUI charges and a driver's license suspension or revocation. 

In most cases, when a teen is punished for reckless driving or even for drunken driving, his or her driver's license will be suspended for a period of time. Suspension until the 18th birthday or 21st birthday is common, for example. However, the recent Rhode Island case is garnering national attention because the judge hearing the case revoked the 17-year-old driver's license for the rest of his life. 

The lifetime driver's license revocation occurred after 17-year-old Lyle Topa crashed his vehicle into a tree while driving three passengers home from a party. Alcohol had been consumed at that party before the accident. Although the accident did not result in any fatal injuries, one of the passengers was in a coma for weeks as a result of injuries sustained during the crash.  Topa pleaded guilty in the criminal court action arising from the accident. Charges against him included driving over the speed limit and driving without a seat belt; several other criminal charges that had initially been brought against him were dropped as part of the plea deal.    

In light of the serious nature of the accident and the injuries that resulted, the judge believed that the sentence was appropriate. The court permits the judge to impose a penalty of a lifetime revocation, and the decision will stand as a message to teens that drunk and reckless driving is taken very seriously.  

This recent Rhode Island case should be a lesson to not only teens in the New England state but also to kids in California and elsewhere that the costs of drunk driving are simply not worth it.

Additional information on transportation safety and personal injury law, including books and articles on the process of pursuing an injury or a wrongful death claim, is available to the public free of charge.

If you would like to request one of these free resources, or to speak with a California personal injury attorney, feel free to call 866-981-5596. 

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