Lawmakers want to modify law that requires arrest of teen speeders

Posted June 19, 2012 11:26 a.m. EDT

Lawmakers are considering modifications to a law they passed last year that has lead to otherwise well behaved teenagers being handcuffed, arrested and taken before a magistrate for speeding. 

The 2011 law was aimed at curbing an epidemic of speeding-related deaths in Johnston County, said Rep. Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston. Speed, failure to wear seat belts and inexperience had lead to near monthly accidents that turned deadly for young drivers he said.

"Young people were getting killed," Daughtry told the House Rules Committee Monday.

But that law has lead to several incidents in which teenagers have been hauled immediately to court when police officers said they normally would have just issued a citation. Parents across the state have questioned whether that procedure is really necessary.

Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee, told the committee one such incident happened over the weekend in his home town. The parents of the teen driver didn't have a problem with the young driver losing his license. 

"They just didn't understand why their son had to be handcuffed," Stone said. 

Lawmakers are now reviewing S 141, which would make changes to a number of different laws. Among the changes, it gives police officers discretion as to whether to take a teen driver directly to jail or merely issue a citation. The teen would still lose his drivers privileges, according to a analysis of the bill be legislative staff.

The measure would also make it a felony to trespass on certain properties owned by electric and water utilities, give the N.C. Lottery Commission greater authority in issuing contracts and limit "judge shopping" by criminal defendants seeking post-trial relief. It now goes to the House Judiciary B Committee.