Originally created 01/08/98

Governor wants laws for teen drivers enforced

ATLANTA -- The governor continued his crusade against efforts to weaken the new teen driving law, admonishing judges and district attorneys Wednesday to stop being lenient on young drivers caught speeding excessively.

"Frankly, I am flabbergasted that there are prosecutors and judges who are impeding the enforcement of this most important law," Gov. Zell Miller wrote.

The memo was prompted by news reports that some prosecutors and judges have failed to suspend licenses of drivers under 21 caught driving 24 mph over the speed limit.

In some cases, the young drivers have been allowed to withdraw their guilty plea or the charges against them have been reduced so that they don't lose their license.

"The message to teens becomes: It's OK to drive recklessly ... because you won't lose your license," Mr. Miller said.

Some lawmakers want to change the law this year so that excessive speeders would be allowed to drive to school or work. Mr. Miller has vowed to veto any attempt to weaken the law.

The speeding clause was part of a sweeping revision of Georgia driving laws passed last year. The law also created a restricted license for drivers under 18 and imposed mandatory jail time for anyone charged with driving under the influence.

In the first four months the law was in effect, more than 3,200 drivers under 21 had their licenses revoked -- including nearly 2,000 for speeding.

Except for those charged with DUI, drivers under 21 whose licenses have been revoked under that provision can apply for new licenses after six months.

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