Local News

State law could land teens in jail for unsafe driving

Posted March 26, 2012 6:15 p.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2012 6:52 p.m. EDT

—  Teenage drivers caught speeding might end up behind bars under a new state law that has some parents upset.

The law requires that teens who are 18 or younger and driving with a provisional license be arrested and taken before a magistrate if they are caught committing a misdemeanor moving violation.

That includes speeding 15 mph above the speed limit, careless and reckless driving, driving in excess of 80 mph, passing a stopped school bus and aggressive driving.

Brittany Guntang, 17, was arrested in Benson last week after she was caught going 15 mph over the speed limit. She says she was surprised when she learned that she wasn't just getting a ticket.

"(The officer) told me to get out of the car and said that he was taking me to the jail in Smithfield for speeding," Guntang said Monday.

As a result, she has lost her license for 30 days.

The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, was passed to try to reduce the high number of North Carolina teenagers being killed in wrecks.

"I would much rather make a phone call to a parent to tell them that their child is at the magistrate's office rather than make that dreaded knock on the door to say that their child is no longer with us due to a motor vehicle collision," First Sgt. Jeff Gordon, of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, said.

But Guntang's mother, Susan McCloud, says she thinks the law is too extreme.

"My daughter is going to be applying for college next year, and, of course, she is going to have to write on her application for college that she has been arrested," she said.

McCloud says she believes the state should do more to raise awareness of the law.

"That's basically the reason I wanted to get in contact with WRAL," she said. "I wanted to let parents and teenagers know that this law is in effect."

 Guntang says she hopes others can learn from her mistake.

"Be aware of this law, and hopefully, don't get caught speeding," she said.