State halts irresponsible student drivers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State halts irresponsible student drivers

 May 23, 2006

Lee County -- The state of Georgia has revoked the driver's licenses of 11,000 students, because they either missed too much school, or committed a serious violation. The Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Law is now affecting students in our area.      

Like most teens, 17-year-old Murray McDearis relies on his car for more than just getting to school.  "I use it every day. I don't have a job, but I'm planning on getting on over the summer. So it's very important."

An important luxury he knows the state can take away-- by revoking his driver's license if he doesn't follow a law called the Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act.  

"It's a motivator for a lot of kids." Social worker Lisa Bailey says 76 Lee County students had their driver's licenses revoked last year for violating the law. Students in Georgia can lose their licenses for up to a year if they rack up ten or more unexcused absences in a semester, commit a violent crime, or are arrested for drug, alcohol or weapons possession.

"The ramification on not attending school is well defined for them." Bailey says the guideline of the law are in the school system's Code of Conduct, which must be signed by all students and their parents.

Parents are also notified by mail when their child is missing too many days.  Still, parents give excuses when their child's driver's license is snatched. "Often times it's 'I didn't realize it was that number, or my child didn't do that, or they didn't have that many unexcused days."

Excuses Bailey follows up by saying, "We have school buses that run all over our county."

Staying off the dreaded "yellow banana" and behind the wheel is motivation enough for McDearis-- and a lot of other Georgia student drivers.  

Forty Dougherty County students had their driver's licenses revoked for breaking the state's responsible driver law last year.

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