GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Gaston County is now joining three other North Carolina counties that have implemented a teen traffic court to help young drivers move forward with a clean record despite committing a minor traffic offense.
Last year Gaston County reported about 700 cases involving teen driver violations like speeding, driving while texting, or being out against their provisional license.
Through a new pilot program funded by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, teens in Gaston County can avoid adult court and instead have their records cleared if they complete a mandatory class and community service.
"By giving our teenage drivers this alternative to court to allow them to become better drivers we’re looking to save lives, we’re looking to reduce car accidents, to reduce reckless and dangerous driving and hopefully change behaviors," Gaston County District Attorney Travis Page said.
Alliance for Children and Youth who also helped back the teen traffic court program says the goal is to give teens a second chance, but also lift the responsibility off of parents and instead hold the teens accountable so the same mistakes are not repeated.
“These are kids that are coming through the court system still on their records and this would be a great opportunity for them to say, 'Hey we made this mistake,' and then hopefully learn from it," executive director Arin Farmer said. “We’re trying to teach kids one mistake can ruin your life.”
The pilot program will begin this fall.
Gaston County leaders say they will re-examine the success of the teen traffic program to see if or how it might become permanent.