CRANSTON, R.I. – A Rhode Island lawmaker is claiming a judge went too far when he revoked a teen’s driver license for the rest of his life because he wanted to send a hard-line message to others about reckless driving in the state.
Chief Magistrate William R. Guglietta, who presides at Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, sentenced 17-year-old Lyle Topa to the “most severe, most drastic penalty” the court could impose last week.
"I've had it,” said Guglietta, according to The Boston Herald. “The time has come for a change in our attitude towards our young people driving, and I hope this is the first step in accomplishing that goal.”
Topa crashed into a tree while driving in Charlestown on Oct. 23 with three friends. Police said the group of high school students had been at a party where alcohol was consumed before the accident. One passenger was in a coma for weeks.
In January, Topa, a senior at Chariho High School, pleaded guilty in court to several charges, including driving over the speed limit and not wearing a seat belt, according to NBC 10 News.
His lawyer, Kevin Hagan of Newport, declined an interview with msnbc.com. “I can’t comment,” Hagan told msnbc.com on Monday, adding “there is a reason I can’t comment, and I can’t comment on that.”
One Rhode Island lawmaker said the judge’s hard-line stance may have gone too far.
“It’s a little harsh,” state Sen. Robert Hedlund told The Boston Herald. “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?”
Guglietta said Topa can ask the court to have it reinstated.
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