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Teen Troublemakers Could Lose Licenses

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RALEIGH — The state's graduated license bill already keeps teens out of the driver's seat until they prove they can be responsible behind the wheel. Now, North Carolina lawmakers hope the threat of taking away a teen's right to drive will keep them out of trouble in other ways.

For months, state lawmakers have been trying to reform the state's juvenile justice system, so Lieutenant Governor Dennis Wicker decided to tie an appropriate amendment to the legislation. It would prevent teenagers who get into serious trouble at school from getting their drivers' licenses.

"If you're 14-years and above and you're in school and you bring drugs, alcohol, weapons, or you assault a school employee, you run the risk of losing your driver's license," says Eric Reeves (D-Wake County).

School leaders say the law gives them another tool to use in keeping kids in line.

"I think it has a lot of potential," says middle school principal Roy Teel. "A driver's license is so significant to students, maybe even more so to 14, 15, 16-year-old students."

"If I was about to do something I would, like, wait a minute, if I do this and I get caught, I'm not going to get my license, I would stop," said teenager Melissa Smith.

The proposed amendment has its opponents. They say the law violates students' privacy and could keep them out of school for good.

"If you kick a kid out of school and they don't have their education, they don't have a way to get to an alternative school, they don't have a way to get to mental health appointments, this is a very big concern," said one opponent of the amendment.

Others express concern that the law would not be a real deterrent, and that some teens would simply do what they want to do regardless of the law.

The bill would mandate confiscation of licenses from students who are suspended for 10 or more days. Their the revocation would last until the student reaches the age of 18. An agreement to undergo counseling would enable the student to retrieve his license.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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