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Massachusetts: Teen Drivers Hit with Big Speeding Penalties
Young drivers in Massachusetts face expensive new license suspension penalties for first-time speeding violations.

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Teenage drivers in Massachusetts face significant new penalties for first-time speeding infractions, no matter how minor. Citing a "zero tolerance" attitude toward speeding, legislators revised the state's Junior Operator License law in a way that will yield substantial revenue.

The changes took effect on March 31 and impose a number of restrictions on when a young motorist is able to drive and what kind of passengers he can take with him. Another provision mandates that anyone under 18 who gets a traffic ticket faces a $50 surcharge, 90-day license suspension, and must attend a State Courts Against Road Rage three-hour "attitudinal retraining" seminar designed primarily for hardened criminal offenders. The program employs films depecting graphic accident footage designed to frighten participants.

Last month, the SCARR program last month involved 785 written violations. By charging each participant $500 for a driver's license renewal, the program has already generated hundreds of thousands in revenue. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports the case of Jackie Crawford, a recent honors graduate of Holy Name High School who was issued a $100 ticket in April for driving 35 MPH in a 25 zone in Spencer. She faced $600 in fines, endured a license suspension and was horrified by the seminar videos.

"The penalty doesn't fit what she did," Central Massachusetts Safety Council Executive Director Tim Cooney told the Telegram & Gazette. "I think the public should be educated about this new law and police should use more discretion. In some respects the law is good. But to be punished like this for a first offense is a little harsh."

Source: Stiff penalties await hotfoot teen drivers (Worcester Telegram and Gazette (MA), 7/15/2007)

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