Judge Imposes Lifetime Driving Ban On 17-Year-Old Boy

CRANSTON, R.I. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — A Rhode Island judge says he imposed a lifetime driving ban on a 17-year-old boy after a serious car accident because he wanted to send a message about reckless driving.

Judge William Guglietta revoked Lyle Topa’s license for the rest of his life on Tuesday in connection with the Oct. 23 crash in Charlestown. Topa and three other Chariho High School students were injured when their car crashed into a tree. One passenger was in a coma for weeks. Topa was driving with a suspended license at the time of the accident, according to The Westerly Sun.

Guglietta said Thursday that Rhode Island’s roads are “littered with broken dreams and broken futures” and it’s time for authorities to get serious about dangerous driving.

“It was the most strict, most drastic penalty this court can order,” Guglietta said, according to The Westerly Sun.

Topa’s lawyer says the penalty is too harsh and may be improper. But the teen can apply to the court to get his license back.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Patrick Rich

    Well then I guess it would be equally fair to talk about the legitimate message this sends about judges.

    • Jan Myers

      Our youngest daughter was killed 18 months ago by an 18-year-old driver. She was hit at 110 m.p.h. (black box in his car). He was showing off to friends which he regularly did. Has he served a day in jail? Lost his license? Paid a fine? NO! His life has gone one as normal while our family’s lives are devastated. Hopefully when he faces trial for SECOND DEGREE FELONY MANSLAUGHTER in June, 2012 he will get a share of “justice” meted out by this judge. Till then his life goes on with no consequences at all. I just wish someone would have been tough on him for speeding BEFORE he killed our daughter!

      • Georgiasaraann

        That’s so bad. At least your daughter had you, who obviously cared about her for her young life. I am glad she had good parents. I hope the folks wanting to baby this fool driver read your post and think about what that driver did to your family. I am so sorry you are having to go through such a bad ordeal. I know it is eating you up. But he will get convicted. And sentanced. People don’t like seeing young lives needlessly taken. It has made me mad sitting here, reading your post. My heart goes out to you.

    • Gregorio Basra

      “those of you who say driving is a PRIVILEGE are just dunderheads! … State issued Drivers License allows you the PRIVILEGE …”

      How’s that, dunderhead?

    • Jeff

      Wish judges would give that kind of penalty to those who drive drunk, especially repeat offenders, as over half of all fatal accidents involve alcohol.

    • Hamboned

      How in the world is this a violation of The Bill of Rights??!!!! Your line of thinking is what’s wrong this country!! His licences was already suspended, yet he was still driving. He obviously did not feel he needed to get the message. HE IS NOT THE VICTIM HERE!!!

      Though his driving “rights” have been revoked, this is misleading. Driving is NOT a Right. It’s a privilege.

    • gk

      I agree this right-wing judge needs to be fired and thown in prison for life and forced to share a cell with gayest inmates. We don’t need judges who try making their own laws and the punishment described above will send a cear message.

    • Joe C

      Yes the courts say that driving is a privilege, not a right. But does that mean we have to agree with that just because the courts say it so? And besides, rights can be taken away. If you’re a felon you can’t vote. So it’s fair and reasonable to argue that driving is a right. A lot of people claimed that gay marriage is their right, and some say it’s not. It is an evolving position. Must we always agree with the court’s current positions like sheep?

      • Againstjudicalpowerabuse

        Joe C –> right on! Some of these posters would jump off a bridge because some county judge told them to do it. If more such people were living during the time of the American Revolution, we would still be flying the British Flag in this land.

    • Russ in OR

      @Terry: One of thousands of citations. Driving is not a right:

      Chapter 11 – The Arizona Driver License
      Driving is a Privilege, Not a Right!

      Driving is a privilege, granted and revocable by the State at any time. It is a common misconception that driving in the State of Arizona is your “right,” but in reality, it is a privilege to drive in this state because you must meet prescribed criteria to be licensed.


    • Erick Irizarry

      Since it was in Cranston, it was Traffic Court. He had that authority. While it may seem draconian, he took the risk with driving with a suspended license and, driving so recklessly that he crashed his car and, this crash resulted not only in his own injuries, but also, more importantly, in the death of another and injury to a third.
      So, was the driver not to be blamed? Are we going to blame society, or some mythical creature?Shall we blame his parents for insufficient love? MAN UP!

      • Georgiasaraann

        JC …You actually defend the 17 year old using Ted Kennedy as an example under which someone should not be driving? Hate to tell you this but Ted Kennedy should also have had a lifetime driving ban not to mention a lifetime prison sentance. Also Ted had a Mass. drivers license and this happended 42 years ago. What do you want this judge to do? Travel back in time to a different state to impose a sentance? I’m sure he would have thrown the book at Ted, which should have happened. Your posting makes no sense.

      • Publius

        Nonsense. I see no one suggesting that the driver shouldn’t be sanctioned.

        Would you suggest the death penalty is in order for the driver?

        The Traffic Court judge likely does not have the authority to deny the driver a license for life. More likely he’ll try to impose it via an order that stays in effect indefinitely. It won’t hold.

      • JC

        Granted with a suspended license he should not have been driving but that doesn’t make him negligent it makes him breaking that law. Well then under this premise, Ted Kennedy shouldn’t have been driving since he was drunk and his little spill in the water ditch that involved the death of woman. Then v/s now or should we bring up any stupid things any of us might have done when we were that age. It didn’t post he was driving under the influence. So he messed up and should be punished but for his entire life. If he were drunk they would have charged him with vehicular manslaughter and he would get out in 10-20 with driving privileges. A$$ backwards philosophy. It will be overturned under appeal and the judge is way over zealous. It is bad for those hurt but he could have been showing off stupid driving or it might have been just an accident. Remember when that use to happen?. One day a simple accident will punishable by death

      • MLehr

        there was no death in this accident

    • DB4D

      How is this cruel and unusual punishment? The punishment is a little harsh, however, the child already had a suspended license… And obviously did not learn from his prior mistakes, so he’s a repeat offender. And apparently the judge made his point because this is now all over the internet. Good job Judge.

    • bob

      Maybe you’d change you mind if it was your kid in a coma. Since you’re not the judge, your opinion is like a fart

    • Eric

      There is a difference between condemning someone to riding the bus, and sawing a baby in two.

      He’ll be able to get a license when he turns 18 anyway. And he can have his juvenile record sealed. He’ll be as clean as a new sheet.

      • Russ in OR

        Your drivers abstract is not the same as your criminal record. No part of your drivers abstract is sealed when you turn 18.

      • Happy Feet

        It won’t matter the SHTF in 2012 and he will probably be riding a motorcycle with a shotgun wearing football pads and sporting a red mohawk in 2013.

        Don’t believe it?

      • Neil

        30 days in jail would have been a better sentence.

      • Neil

        He was driving with a suspended license, what’s to stop him now?

        Anyway he could go to another state and get a license.

      • MoveFromRhodeIsland

        Another story that never happened to take attention away from the coup and cover up. Unelected officials took over Washington, the media, and think you can’t handle the truth. We have no democracy, no president, and freedom of press is an illusion.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out. Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in history

      • Doug

        No he won’t. Sealing a criminal convcition is not the same and doesn’t include your driver safety sheet. Driver license records are consdiered business records or public records in many states and cannot be sealed.

    • benth165

      Well Beazr how about letting the family of future victims decide the punishment of that arrant brat. Ike maybe a firing squad. We cannot keep people from dying or getting into automobile accidents, but if justice is meted out by that firing squad on public TV, it would soon stop those who feel they can abuse common curtsey on the road.

    • Steele

      And maybe you’d change your mind if it were your own kid. Split the baby loses its appeal when its your baby. And we figured that part out thousands of years ago.

    • JB

      Haha .. Then, we’re going to need a whole lot of rope, son. Because judicial abuse of power is alive and well in America. Do you know that you can lose your driver’s license over child support non-payment? Where is the logic in that? There is no logic. Only hunger for money and power.

    • robert preston

      Such as what?

    • Eric

      Driving is a privilege not a right

    • joej

      yay judge! we could use more judges like this one.

      • Reason

        Go recruit them for us. Get some good former soviet bloc judges who have 20 years of being unable to oppress building up inside them.

    • Finbar

      @Bob Turner: Yes it does. I was endowed by my Creator with a driver’s license.

    • ryan k

      Giving is not a right its a privilege it is not protected under the constitution. And if you think it is you need to go and finish high school

      • Georgiasaraann

        John….learn the difference between driving and travel and then get back with us. And Scott…is British Common driving law listed in the constitution? No? Well then you can not connect the two. The constitution and BCL are two different things. Using your logic I can connect centuries old laws to whatever I want and say it is covered under the constitution. Driving laws have evolved over time. For a reason. By voters.

      • Scott Bieser

        The Ninth Amendment to the constitution clearly states, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be used to deny or disparage others retained by the people” This means, just because a right is not listed in the Constitution doesn’t mean you don’t have it.
        To find out about the non-enumerated rights, you have to look into the British common law, and one of those rights is “the right of conveyance,” which is, the right to travel on the public roadways, by whatever means you have that are useful and not inherently destructive (in the old days, by horse or by private carriage). In the early 20th Century, the various states decided that “driving,” which originally meant to transport goods or persons in commerce, was now the same as operating any motor vehicle, therefore subject to license. And they got away with it because most voters at the time were afraid of those smoke-belching horseless carriages and were happy to see their use restricted. And thus does fear enslave us.

      • Robert

        Driving became a privilege when the guvment realized it could tax it. Citizenry accepted the burden of lost liberty for “security”, because the guvment can obviously make those decisions better. Sacrifice liberty for security “safety” and soon youll have neither.

      • John

        Right. Driving is a privilege, flying is a privilege, using the train is a privilege…. So, The ability to travel has become something that can be taken away without due process. Genius. And nonsense. The ability to travel is a fundamental human right, and all the DMV propaganda to the contrary won’t change that.

    • TheDomesticTerrorist

      It means that you can drive on private property anywhere (where approved by the owner) without a license. A license is only needed to drive on the public highways and roads.

      You should also check out the supreme court’s rulings upon “the right to travel”. So much ignorance in one thread…

    • Chris B.

      Revenge is not an appropriate punishment. “Sending a message” goes beyond the law as it applies to an individual person, who does not, and should not, represent the entire population. Emotion should not enter into law.

    • Bloodyspartan

      Driving is not a privelege, we have only let them convince us it is.

      We have the right to come and go for now at least as we please the form of transportation always depended on time and civilization.

      After all they hung horse thieves. All governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed.
      They have no right to take away our right to come and go for life, the same with guns a felon pays his dues and according to the Demi Gods he has no right to protect him and those he loves BS

    • Publius

      Complete tripe. Try denying a license to someone on the basis of entirely subjective criteria such as race or sex and see how far your “privilege” argument gets you.

    • Publius

      “… using your own statement of “cruel and unusual”, the operative word there is “AND”. The punishment may indeed be unusual but it is in no way cruel. It is a poignant example of ‘let the punishment fit the crime’. I applaud the judge and hope more judges will follow his example. I am a retired law enforcement officer and saw too much devastation on the roads and too much leniency from the courts.”

      As a former LE officer, you realize what you’ve said here is complete nonsense, correct? The word “and” in no way allows singularly cruel or singularly “unusual” punishments.

    • Claude Slahenhop

      Lock him up for 10 years, that will send a message.

    • Mark Matis

      Well said. It’s clear that the Constitution does not matter to some of the swill commenting here. It’s all about how they feel. Hope they’re ready for the civil war. Or not.

    • trackman

      Many of our country’s youth are in trouble today because there is no accountability and they know they can get away with it because they only get there hand slapped. I hope this sends a wake up call to some of our youth that you can be held accountable for irresponsible behavior.

    • Wally Cleaver

      If he was an illegal alien, he wouldn’t have any problem. No Problem, I just get another license, Many such illegals are littering our roads with destruction.

      • John

        I wholeheartedly agree! In fact they reward them with a free pass.

      • Doug

        Personally, I think illegals should be given licenses to drive in the US. Why? It would allow us to track them and allow them to get insurance coverage to give some relief to the people they crash into drunk and we get some money back from their illegal employment in this country, which we are never going to be able to stop anyway. However, I would mandate fingerprinting of them to avoid multiple licensing issues.

    • jack

      thats crazy hopes his insurance atleast covers the car
      mustangs shouldnt be abused like that!
      http://bit.ly/xWqVUa hope that insurance covers him

    • FLETCH


    • John Miles

      I wouldn’t change my mind even if it was my child hurt in this. Judges handing out unfair sentences to ‘set and example’ or ‘send a message’ is wrong. They should follow the law and hand out the same sentence they would in any other case.

      Besides… Cruel and *UNUSUAL* punishment is against the Constitution. This would definitely fall under the ‘unusual’ category.

    • bmsadler01

      Like that will stop him from driving. He was already driving with a suspended license when he crashed his car.

    • Mac

      Still spewing your linkspam, eh Aunt Bee?

    • no

      This is exactly what should happen. Found drunk driving? License suspension for five years. Same with an issue of extreme negligence like this. Found drunk driving a second time? Or found driving while your license is suspended at any time? Suspended for LIFE. Found driving when suspended for life? Spend a year in prison.

      My right not to be killed by you is more important than your right to repeatedly put the public in danger, because you’re a jackhole or a drunk.

      • Neil


      • Georgiasaraann

        THANK YOU!

    • c dubs

      The judge’s capricious, whimsical decision undermines confidence in the US legal system.

      • joej

        wrong. it is all the other judges who choose to NOT punish repeat offenders like this idiot who are undermining the US legal system. LET US PROTECT THE VICTIMS, NOT THE CRIMINALS.

    • Reality Check

      Actually the constitution does protect some driving rights.

      The U.S. Supreme courts has ruled people have a right to work and if allowances are not made to allow people to get back and forth to work in a reasonable manner a permanent driving ban is unconstitutional.

      • Georgiasaraann

        What ruling?

    • ben

      5 years, I understand. For life? He’s ruined.

    • JJ

      Arrogant righteous liberal. Driving is a privilege, not a right. But then, as you confuse your privileges for rights, your condemnation comes as no surprise.

      Punk ought to be in prison for life…….., but still with full driving privileges!

      • Againstjudicalpowerabuse

        I’m a conservative and i disagree with you. I think driving should be a right. Can’t we have a national discussion about this then let the voters decide? So much depends upon the ability to drive these days and public transportation is not a viable option in most places in the US.

      • Mike

        Anything that can be revoked, suspended, reversed, revised and or amended is not a right but a privilege and privileges can be taken away. The only right that one has is the right to free thought but then only if you keep it to yourself.

    • William

      Tar and Feather this judge! Then tie him to a donkey, and make a loud noise!

    • Brad

      He would win on appeal … and you are correct … our judiciary is defunct.

      • Doug

        Maybe… most VTLs have an “other” clause that allows judges to do this. And you can only appeal something if you have a lawful avenue to do so.

    • TiredOfTheCriminals

      I’m sorry – when was driving elevated to the status of a ‘right’? It is something that the state licenses. They have standards, they impose fees and they can choose not to grant a driving license to someone just as they can choose not to grant any other type of license. Is getting a liquor license a right? Is getting a business license a right? Is getting an insurance or brokerage license a right? No. To get any type of license standards have to be met, if not the state can deny the license.

      Stupid people have no idea what ‘rights’ they’re guaranteed.

      BTW – what this boy will do is move to another state, get a license there and probably kill somebody on the road.

    • BigBob

      please crawl back under your liberal rock

    • reverend richard

      This will never pass muster in a federal constitutional challenge. How about the judge gives someone 30 days for a parking ticket. Or the death penalty for multiple driving offenses?

      Not saying mind you that a 5 year suspension and 30 days in the can wouldn’t mind you, my point is the judge is overreaching.

      • Georgiasaraann

        Jenny never said he did not have a right to travel. She said he did not have a right to drive. Why are you bringing travel up? It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

      • John Thomas

        Actually Jenny, you have a Constitutional Right to Travel which has been explained and enforced by the courts. Travel is a Natural Right not a privilege. Some people will claim this is untrue but legally you do not need a “driver’s license” to travel on interstate highways. State laws and local may be different.


        In U.S. v Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966), the Court noted, “It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized.” In fact, in Shapiro v Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969), Justice Stewart noted in a concurring opinion that “it is a right broadly assertable against private interference as well as governmental action. Like the right of association, … it is a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.”

      • JC


      • James G

        It is constitutional– it is within the scope of the judge’s authority, and is not outside of the law in that state. Also, there is a legal avenue to have the license reinstated, and due process is not denied.

        If the kid straightens himself out, he will likely get his license back. If not, he can take the bus.


      • Jenny Bea

        Why wouldn’t it pass a constitutional challenge? You do not have a right to drive. You are given a priviledge via license. His rights haven’t been violated. Now, this probably won’t stand, and this young man can appeal the ruling, and it will most likely be overturned. But his constitutional rights were not violated- or if so, please point out the amendment guaranteeing a right or freedom to drive.

    • A Z

      Cutting a child in half is EXACTLY like taking away their license to drive a motor vehicle.

    • EndlessMediaLies

      Give me a break. After the coup and cover up much of the daily news is orchestrated by unelected officials who took over Washington and the media. Even Disqus commenting systems were knocked out today to prevent the truth from spreading.

      We have no president, no democracy, and freedom of press is an illusion.

      Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out. Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in history

    • Paul

      Get over yourself judge… it’s prick’s like you that give the judicial branch a bad name… Why don’t you go after the DUI cases that get 3rd, 4th, and 5th chances….

      • arnoldripkin

        I would rather enter a dangerous intersection against a drunk driver than one texting. A driver who kills someone due to alcohol, drugs, texting, stupidity, fatigue, or anything else should face the same charge. 2nd degree murder or manslaughter. It’s time to treat everyone who takes a life the same. The victim’s life should not be devalued because the killer wasn’t drunk.

      • Georgiasaraann

        So Paul, what do you think the judge does on DUI cases? Dismiss them? You get a DUI you are cooked. Your license is gone. It costs you. Of course, it does not matter to a drunk, they will drive anyway. Exactly the same as this guy. Answer me this. If you are killed by a another driver, do you think it matters if his license was suspended for drunk or for reckless driving?

    • Pat EB

      Punishing a 17-year-old (a juvenile) this harshly is not productive. Make him pay for the damage he caused and let him prove that he can be trusted again. Taking his driving privileges for life proves that this judge is not thinking, he is just trying to score points with somebody (is he an elected official I wonder?).
      Maybe next time he will just order the next teenage offender shot just to prove a point. This is stupid beyond belief.

    • ConservativeProf

      This kid was already driving on a suspended license. I suspect he will do it again, and then go to jail. It won’t matter, then, whether he has a license.

    • Jim Dea

      Yeah, like they are way puffed up and thinking that they are little god’s.

    • James

      Driving is not a RIght protected by any Law in America. To tell someone that their actions are a Violation of other Peoples RIghts than this course of action is needed and Justified.

    • Bunky

      Kinda like your opinion Bob.

    • Dog

      All these fools are happy that a judge imposed a ridiculous sentence. I don’t get it.
      I think 10 year suspension would have been more appropriate.

      Who is going to pay this kids welfare when he never can get a job because he has been denied the ability to travel?

    • Dog

      You think the government polices itself?
      A cop can beat people, shoot their dog, and apologize for being in the wrong house with no repercussions. A judge is a LOT higher on the food chain than a cop. Judges are chosen for their political connections.

      The government is unaccountable, since it won’t bring itself to account, and out of control. Jury nullification and ballot initiatives are the only check on government since good people can’t make money in government since they won’t take bribes.

      I live in MA. The last four speakers of the house are in jail for corruption. Never trust a politician or the government. They are out to steal from you under the cover of “public service”

    • Dennis

      @Justin, using your own statement of “cruel and unusual”, the operative word there is “AND”. The punishment may indeed be unusual but it is in no way cruel. It is a poignant example of ‘let the punishment fit the crime’. I applaud the judge and hope more judges will follow his example. I am a retired law enforcement officer and saw too much devastation on the roads and too much leniency from the courts.

    • johnny

      its unconstitutional …plain and simple

    • The_Truf

      @ JB

      “Only hungry.”


      I assume you’re referring to the children of the deadbeat parents.

    • Bob Turner

      LOL, the Constitution does not protect driving priveledges.

    • Terry

      First off, those of you who say driving is a privilege are just dunderheads! Driving is and always has been a right granted to all US Citizens. Every State in the Union agrees with this! A State issued Drivers License allows you the privilege of driving on public rights of way, i.e. highways and public roads.

      Second, please explain how a ban for life from driving is not an unusual punishment! Cruel, no. Unusual, yes. Can anyone cite examples of when this punishment has been used often enough that it’s not “unusual”?

      Admittedly, I don’t know it works in RI but in every state that I’ve been in sets a proscribed penalty period for a license suspension. I’d be interested to know if RI even gives it’s judges the leeway to suspend a license forever.

    • 1972Patriot

      I applaud the judge for his ruling and his message…

      “Topa’s lawyer says the penalty is too harsh and may be improper. But the teen can apply to the court to get his license back.”

      IMO, if the teen learns to hold himself accountable for his actions due to this decision, he should have no problem regaining his driving privilege.

    • KMB

      Wow, I must have missed the fact that driving was a right and protected under the Constitution. You idiot, quit coddling stupid people in this society and hold them accountable. “No cruel or unusual punishment”; what are you 10? Knot-head; I pray to God that you have not participated in bringing a life into this world and DON’T.

    • Justin Haines

      @Bob Turner

      You don’t think a lifetime ban for a reckless driving charge is considered unusual punishment? Cruel and unusual punishment *is* protected by the U.S. Constitution …

      • devilmademe

        “cruel and unusual punishment” is NOT protectected by the Constitution …. it is specifically prohibited by the Constitution.

        Your verbiage leaves a lot to be desired, doesn;t it?

    • John

      Judges should not be “sending messages”. In every case I can think of something obscene happens out of proportion to the crime. His sentence should be more or less on similar to other minors who have committed the same crime. It should not be forgotten that while he was driving with a suspended licence (a crime) both the accident and injuries were unintentional. Surely anyone convicted of assault (deliberate) would face a stronger penalty.

      • Steve

        It’s Rhode Island…who cares? He can get his license in one of the other 49 states without a problem. Essentially the Judge is exhibiting a self important news maker which amounts to mere puffery

      • Matt


        How can you say the injuries are unintentional? does that mean that when a drunk driver slams into a family car and kills people or dissfigures them, that it was unintentional? Seems to me that if he seriously injured people, was driving on a suspended license, and driving reckless ther is no “unintentional” about it. He got into a vehicle as an operator when he was not allowed, drove beyond the limits imposed by the state, endangered others and ultimatly seriously injured and almost killed one. The judge had the ability to impose the maximum punishment which was the suspension of his license for life. Seems fair to me.

      • James G

        Yes, judges should be “sending messages.” They just shouldn’t announce that they are sending a message, since that indicates they are invoking a harsher sentence than what is deserved.

        When a judge says ” I want to send a message,” somebody is getting singled out. Just apply the law and hand down the sentence without the drama.

      • Mike


        You really think that seems fair? C’mon, you don’t and you know it. The suspended license is an administrative violation, and by your logic, ANYONE who is speeding and gets into an injury accident is liable to lose their license for life. Driving and riding in automobiles is inherently dangerous-should cars then be outlawed?

        Since the guy needs to live, what do you suppose the result of this will be?

      • Raphiboy

        Why do people keep saying it is beyond the power of the judge? The judge is quoted right in the article, it’s the highest form of punishment the court is competent to levy. When I was 17 I had enormous respect for the power of an automobile, and would never have abused that power. This kid not only had one accident and revocation of his license, but then he drove like a drunken buffoon while his license was revoked with three more people in the car. He needs a severe punishment because apparently he does not respect authority.

    • 31337

      lol maybe you would change your mind if oh wait the kid was on a suspended license and SHOCKER! he was still driving. What about his parents? Where were they? They should be punished too for letting their kid drive on a suspended license. Its not the village who raises the child but the parents (Sorry Hillary) What should be done is simple, like what they do in Japan with the Shoshinsha marks so other drivers know to stay away and since this kid was in/caused an accident he should be tossed in jail for a year or two. We also need to bring chain gangs back for people like this kid.

    • h

      @Justin Haines: driving is a privilege, not a right.

    • Serapis

      Bob Turner

      LOL, the Constitution does not protect driving priveledges

      Sorry, you are so incredibly misinformed. The Constitution does not “protect” anything, nor does it “grant” us any rights or privileges. The Constitution only places limits on the federal government. In short, everything in the Constitution is stating what the government CAN’T do. The Bill of RIghts does state some (but not all) of the rights that are inherit (aka, “endowed by their Creator”) Unfortunately, so many like this poster today think we are not allowed to do anything unless we are given the OK by some unaccountable bureaucrat.

    • Kaitara

      Finally a judge making someone take responsibility for their actions. He might not be able to drive for a long time, but DEAD is forever!

      • Saul

        Agreed. It should be “Once and done: What the individual does is no concern “deal with it”. Iceland is one of several countries that has “for life” drinking and driving penalty. As a note, there is a local older fellow who drives without a liscense. He has been cited many times, even put in jail several times, but he still goes about his way and drives often. The police tend to ignore him now. He’s like a local hero. No DUI or other crime, he just drives without a liscense…..

      • John Busciglio

        How is this making him take responsibility? Taking responsibility would be him paying for the injuries he caused to himself and to others. By limiting this kids ability to drive, the judge has severely limited his ability to earn wages to pay for his mistake. I would say the judge is severely limiting the kids ability to not only take responsibility for this mistake, but also to take responsibility for anything else.

        Dumb ruling aimed at taking revenged, it won’t change a thing except incite revenge minded people to applaud at the “courage” of the judge to wield his power.

      • Doug

        You could argue points of this case forever. For example, the medical bills for the injured child may reach astronomical amounts the driver will never be able to pay back. Saddling a 17 year-old with several million dollars of debt will also impede his ability to earn a living, buy a house, car, etc. for the rest of his life. Is that fair? I’m not defending the kid or judge, but just pointing out stuff like this. Personally, I think a 5 year revocation, $10,000 fine, and probation would be more approriate. We all have made dumb mistakes and a lifetime ban just doesn’t seem reasonable but we don’t have all the facts here. The kid may have a safety sheet 10 feet long and is why the judge imposed a lifetime ban. Will it stop him from driving? Probably not. It’s one of the reasons I support increasing the penalities each time they get caught.

    • Ruckus

      Many Doctors and Lawyers lose their License for life, to practice Medicine and law and it is upsheld. Certainly someting as minor as a Drivers License being taken away for life can also be upheld. The brat was driving with a suspended license in the first place. This boy uses a car as a weapon. The judge is taking away his right to own such a weapon. I think it can be upheld.

    • Mark Twain

      This is clearly Bush’s fault, not the judge or the driver.

    • Big Cat

      Driving after revocation should be a felony. It’s too bad he can’t get prison time. He deserves it.

      • Reason

        Yes, prison! He can train to run guns and drugs for the ATF and have a bright future!

      • Doug

        i agree. At some point you should get jail time if you don’t get the message you can’t drive. However, given all the drunk politicians who crash, we’ll never see it.

    • JJ

      Be careful what you ask for. Although your heart and emotions call for justice, you slowly lose your freedom. Freedom is ugly and has a cost. Although the heart says the judge is right, one day you won’t be able to challenge the judge. And the judge will take away your freedom. And your children! Then again, you did want the judge to protect your children. Didn’t you?

    • Macfad

      Good on the judge!
      Oh and you idiots arguing Constitutional rights here, there is no right to operate a motor vehicle! For 5000 years mankind rode at the speed of a horse, and by god if it was good enough for the majority of mankind past, then it’s good enough for this jerk who thinks he’s above the law! Let his arse ride the “shoe leather” express for the rest of his miserable life! (and incidentally, if it was my kid, I’d argue the same thing! NOBODY has a right to ignore the law and hurt other people!

    • SEGrady

      I am astonished at how many of you make claims about the Constitution that are so incredibly wrong. As a 15 year veteran instructor of the Constitution, I would suggest each of you go online to find a copy of the Constitution and take the 10 minutes needed, to read it over carefully. The original version was only 4 pages. Begin with the Preamble, then read the Articles, then the amendments. Some of you have a basic understanding but none of you seem to really know what is in the Constitution. It’s easy to know for certain if you simple READ it for yourselves.

      As for this ruling, I understand the judges motive but do not agree with the sentence given. A more reasonable sentence would be a 5 to 10 year loss with several hundred hours of community service. Perhaps make his community service cleaning up horrendous accident scenes to help itch in his young mind the seriousness of his poor judgement. I also agree that the parents are not free from blame…as in cases where a child fires a weapon owned by the parent there is a basic requirement that they make a good faith effort to protect their child and others from harm. A fine would likely send a clear message to his parents as well…perhaps even have a few hours of community service as a family…cleaning up accident sites. My two cents…Go READ the Constitution now folks!

    • Ruben Reyes

      Prof. Carroll Quigley,

      The judge did NOT take away his right to travel. He can still buy a bus ticket just as easily as anyone else.

      • Doug

        At least someone out here understands the law besides me. Why is it so diifficult for people to grasp that the right to travel is not the same as the right to drive? Is our education system that bad that even the simple legal concepts like this can’t sink in?

      • klg1956

        Why don’t you try living in Caliifornia for one day….nothing makes sense anymore…..we’ve got Police Chiefs rewriting our legal driving laws when the state is telling him he’s breaking the law..and a mayor standing up with the police chief….letting illegal immigrants drive w/o driver’s licenses, registration, insurance…..only the legals can get arrested…WHERE IS MOTHER’S AGAINST DRINK DRIVERS? What’s worse, driving drunk (at least you know how to drive while intoxicated) or driving without a license?

      • devilmademe

        “At least someone out here understands the law besides me. Why is it so diifficult for people to grasp that the right to travel is not the same as the right to drive? Is our education system that bad that even the simple legal concepts like this can’t sink in?”

        There is no Right to drive … Driving a motor vehicle on public roads has been deemed (by the Courts) to be a privilege that is subject to regulation by the several states.

      • Doug

        Uhm, You just restated what I just said. There is no Constitutional Right to drive in this country.

    • Will

      I want this judge in my town where countless people have got off with suspended sentences for killing other road users while DUI second third and fifth time.

    • Alec Baldwin

      I agree with Patrick: Many people in this country believe that driving on public roads and highways should be a right, not a “privilege” While expressing remorse for those who may have lost a loved one due to a DWI or reckless driving accident, I am against this judges ruling. This judge is “drunk with power” in my opinion. Remember that when you point your finger at somebody you have three pointing straight back at you! Its easy to utterly condemn someone who has broken the law until it happens to you or someone close to you.

      • Georgiasaraann

        SO….he’s a judge but should not make a judgement? This judge is right. Impose the maximum sentance. The 17 year old was driving on a suspended sentance. The 17 year old clearly did not care about the law. He will drive again. I have a relative that does this. Drunk. Has been in and out of prison several times. Do you want him on the same road as you or your family? Or this 17 year old genius who ran his car up a tree? Some people should not drive. Big deal if I point the finger at him or you. If I point one finger at you and point the rest of my fingers at you at the same time do you get 3 times the judgement? That makes about as much sense as your statement. He’s a judge. He judges and imposes sentances. It’s his job. Do you understand that? Sit in a courtroom sometimes. Judges are trying to straighten these people out. They are not on a power trip. They see way too much of this.

    • Doug

      No. He just chose the wrong case to make his point. Lifetime driving bans are rather common in other countries who take this issue rather seriously. Some countries make DWI a death penalty offense or life imrpisonment for 1st time offenders.

    • Terry


      I’ll type this slowly so you can understand it.

      DRIVING is a right. That’s DRIVING, be it a car, motorcycle, Segway, ATV or any other mechanical transportation device. This means you can drive ANYTIME on any non-public throughway.

      Drivers Licenses allow you the privilege of driving on public roads. That part IS a privilege. But driving is a right.

      I’m betting you’re the same type of person who’ll say that FLYING is a privilege too, even though it’s US Federal law that flying is a RIGHT. (Section 49 p 40103

      @Russ – Read a little further down the paragraph you cited and it states “You must have a driver license issued by the Motor Vehicle Division to drive on any public road, street, or highway…” Read the whole paragraph and it becomes obvious that their argument is that since the Motor Vehicle Division can revoke your license, and you must have a license to drive on any public road, it’s a privilege that can be revoked at any time. That website is just wrong.

      Ask yourself, do the Arizona License requirements apply to Indian Reservations? No, they don’t as long as it’s not a publicly maintained road. WHy? Because it’s private property and you don’t need a license to drive on private property or any other non-publicly owned throughway. A Private road? Legal without a license.

      DomesticTerrorist is correct and shows the critical thinking so lacking in today’s youth.

      • Doug

        Terry, you are wrong. The Court has never affirmed your right to “drive” on public roadways or highways. It has only affirmed your right to “travel” upon them and you have no right to do so while driving a vehicle. Driving is NOT a right. Traveling is as affirmed by the Court. And you are wrong about your Indian reservation example. Indian reservations are considered seperate sovereigns when it comes to trying to enforce state or federal laws on them., not private property.

    • Jennifer

      Has that judge permanently revoked driving privileges for every individual arrested for DUI and other serious infractions? They are also causes for “broken dreams and broken futures”. He should do so from here on out or he will be a hypocrite.

      • Macfad

        Tha’ts ok. Hypocrisy isn’t so bad.

      • Doug

        The law does not state that justice must be equal. It states that it must be fair. That is why sentences can vary widely when handed down.

    • Jim

      Johnny = never heard/read/seen the Constitution.

    • Prof. Carroll Quigley

      Its an accident. Accidents happen.

      The judge does not have this power.
      If he did, then another judge could take all kinds of rights besides just travel.

      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – GOOGLE EXCLUDED INCOME

      Make the lying judges and politicians OBEY the US income tax law.

  • Pleased

    Wow. A judge with real balls. Repeat sentences like this enough and it will become what the legal system should be – a deterrent. His little friends at school will think twice as being as stupid as “Lyle” was – and if not, may they be seated before this same judge. Thank you Judge Guglietta!!!

    • Brandon

      Being “tough on crime” does not work. It has been proven over and over again. It’s just a scam to get simpletons like you to part with your money to build prisons.

      • bob

        I must have missed the part where he was sent to prison.

        I agree, putting criminals in prison does not work. Criminals should all be allowed on the streets to commit more crimes. That will work to reduce crime. Aren’t you glad you’re not a simpleton?

      • joej

        I agree. Instead we should all carry guns and shoot the idiots we see around us. Much cheaper and more effective in the long run.

    • Darrell Renfroe

      Yes!! Finally!!
      A judge is willing to to punish a person for crimes that other people have not yet committed.
      Everyone who commits a crime should be punished for whatever anyone else in the future may or may not ever do.
      That’s the whole purpose of “sending a message” when imposing sentences!
      This person should ABSOLULETLY NOT be punished for what he did, he should be punished for what orhters might be stopped from doing!
      Way to Go SuperJudge!

      • bob

        So the judge took away his license for no reason at all? The guy was safely driving his car and the judge just walked up and took his license away for life. What a meanie beanie judge!

      • Eric

        He was driving recklessly, and doing so without a valid license. The fact that he didn’t have a license tells me that he’s probably done it before.

        He committed at least one crime, and neither you nor I know what his prior record looks like just from reading this article.

        Reckless driving IS a crime, and it kills thousands of people every year
        One of the most important reasons behind incarceration is to prevent the person from committing “future crimes.” That’s why we lock people up. It’s not a new concept that this judge just now invented, you know.

      • Georgiasaraann

        Well Reason, yes, it will be too damn bad if he has to take public transportation at 50 because he was an idiot at 17. I thought you liberals liked buses and trains. And this will save the environment! I’m sure the trees are much safer, without him running into them.

      • Reason

        It’s important that he continues to be punished at 50 for what he did when he was a kid. All you republicans that think otherwise better wake up! The great spirit blessed our nation with a growing authoritarianism for a reason! Fall in line! Wouldn’t it be awesome if the Judge ordered him to be beat with sticks in public every Wednesday for life?

    • Steele

      You do realize what ‘for life’ means? he crashed a car, he didn’t firebomb a school. Apply this to your own youth and figure out where you’d have been banned ‘for life’ from something for making a mistake. This is abuse of judicial discretion and will be overturned.

      • reverend richard

        law talking dudette

        You do understand that driving is a privilege, not a right, correct? And that it was Lyle, not the judge, who caused that privilege to be revoked by getting his license suspended, driving while his license was suspended, crashing while his license was suspended, and putting another kid into a coma?

        The judge is grand standing and you know it. How about giving him 20-life, think that will get peoples attention.

      • Al

        Agreed! Not one of us (hopefully) is the same person at 35 that we were at 17. Suspended sentence didn’t work? Okay, then you up the anty with a few months in jail for juvies. If that doesn’t work, then more time in jail, fines, and inline forms of punishment.

        One man, despite being a judge, does not have the power to arbitrarily strike down another person’s rights to a normal, healthy life just because said person made a big mistake. Nobody was killed or even permanently impaired. The sentence in over the top and unconstitutional.

      • bob

        @Steele – Without due process of law? Why do you think a courtroom is? You really are stupid and clueless

      • law talking dudette

        You do understand that driving is a privilege, not a right, correct? And that it was Lyle, not the judge, who caused that privilege to be revoked by getting his license suspended, driving while his license was suspended, crashing while his license was suspended, and putting another kid into a coma?

      • Steele

        No Jib, I just live by the idea that I never give the state the power to take anyone’s liberty without due process of law, and this was in violation of due process (see the links I posted that you apparently didn’t read while doing your googling.) There is no precedent, no law that gives the judge the right to do this. What’s next, we take a person’s kid away for swatting them once on the butt? For life? Do you see how easily ‘for life’ can be abused?

      • Steele

        Somehow CK unless you live in a cave, I call you a liar. Or have never driven, never had a friend who broke the law. You really are just too narrow-minded to realize what I meant. So you witness a friend drinking underage, that’s contributing to the delinquency of a minor. You’re now banned for life from being around alcohol. Say you drove 5 miles over the speed limit in a school zone, in some locals this can get you charged with wreckless driving, surprise you’re now banned for life, hope you can walk to work. Do you see how out of control this OVER reaction is?

      • CK

        Steele said, “Apply this to your own youth and figure out where you’d have been banned ‘for life’ from something for making a mistake.”



      • Jib

        His license was already suspended, apparently that didn’t work.

      • Steele

        You can get a suspended license for parking tickets, or a single driving infraction in some states depending on your age. That doesn’t prove anything but that he’d had a previous driving mistake.

      • dmockercy

        how about the lives that are forever changed due to the actions of someone who had no business behind the wheel?

      • robert preston

        I don’t think so

      • Jib

        The information is at your fingertips, if you choose to use it. 2 previous suspensions for traffic violations. Sounds like Steele is either a friend of the driver or is a fellow Dale Earnhardt on local roads.

      • vtwin

        Would you say the same if he had smashed into YOUR vehicle and left you crippled and brain-damaged for the rest of your life, thus causing undue financial hardship on your family?
        He had a choice. Obey the law or violate it. He chose the latter, but he was punished for the severity of the result of his offense.
        And, as a result of the judge’s decision, YOUR roads are a bit safer.

      • rpv

        The glaring truth is that he’ll carry this mistake and the harm done for the rest of his life. I disagree with the judge’s verdict because there are better ways to handle this. I don’t believe for one second that whatever adult he grows into, he’ll resort to public transportation, or the graces of others to get him around. At some point, unless his behavior is changed and he has a venue for reacquiring his license, he be behind the wheel of another vehicle. Better to educate and modify his behavior, than to enforce a rule that time will make meaningless.

      • mike

        steele is useless arguing with a bunch of idiots on the internet

        agree with you though

  • Junnipersmippets

    Good call by the judge. One stupid drunk behind the wheel can devastate families forever. He can ride a bike or walk. He should never, ever be behind the wheel again. I hope he’s also sued for all medical costs related to the injuries of his “friends.” Some friend.

    • aaron burns

      Where does it say he was drunk?

      • bob

        Does it matter if he’s drunk or not? His repeated reckless action caused serious injury to another person. At least he wasn’t sent to prison for assault

      • Junnipersnippets

        Bob, maybe it doesn’t matter if he was drunk or not. Aaron simply called into question Junnipersmippets presumption that he was drunk. The comment was part of the conversation they were having, until you jumped in and stated something irrelevant to the exchange. Your comment may be relevant to the article, but who cares?

    • AlexU

      Wasn’t drunk but reckless so he understood what he was doing.

    • Steele

      because clearly one mistake should ruin your life where no one died. I hope your kids bring you the same sort of draconian justice home, and you get the legal bill, maybe then you’ll think twice about allowing this sort of insanity.

      • Eric

        So, Steele, he was drunk, had no license, a car full of kids, swerving all over, speeding like a maniac, etc…..and you think this was “excessive”?

        How many dead bodies does it take before you’d take it seriously?

      • Steele

        You’re talking about the rest of his life, do a little research, that’s generally longer than say, a month. You want him to atone? incarcerate him. Do not impose a lifetime ban when it was a mistake. I can guarantee you that there is something in your life you hide from people, that if we banned you for, you’d be screaming that ‘for life’ was unfair. I guess we need to start heating up the irons and doling out the scarlet letters so you idiots get a clue.

      • Steele

        Also deb, he was punished. In a plea agreement, Topa admitted to speeding 20 miles over the 35 mph limit, although the judge said he believes the speed was higher; violating laws regarding seat belt use, having too many passengers in the car and overtaking another car where prohibited. The judge dropped several charges including a graduated license violation of being out past designated curfew, leaving the lane of travel and failure to maintain control of the vehicle. Other charges, such as being a minor in possession of alcohol, are being handled in closed Family Court hearings.


        This is just the harshest PART of the punishments.

      • KRS

        Steel said “I can guarantee you that there is something in your life you hide from people”

        Nope. It’s called live as a law abiding citizen.

      • Jib

        One mistake? His license had ALREADY been suspended TWICE for traffic violations. Do a little research, pretty easy on the internet.

      • Deb

        I guess we should wait until he kills someone before punishing him.

        He was driving on a suspended license, and still had no respect for the law. I think this is great!

      • Junnipersnippets

        Steele, do you always immediately resort to pejorative and 5th grade name-calling when someone has a differing opinion? Do you realize you called Deb an IDIOT because you disagree with her? I suspect you suffer low self-esteem from being stuffed into your school locker as a kid, but now you’re one of those “keyboard warriors” who can hide behing your computer screen and attack with your fingers.

      • Dave

        I would also like to point out that if his license was suspended then he was probably not covered by and insurance (which last I knew was required in all states). So if he would have hit somebody who would have paid for that damage. Sending him to jail just means that now the tax payers have to support him. Then there is the question of alchol, If that was involved then I think he should have been charged with attempted murder.

  • Not Sure

    Bring on the the flying cars already!

    • Intellectual

      So instead of merely crashing into a tree at 45-60 mph, they’ll fall into a tree from 200ft up, where their speed will be upwards of 100 mph? Sounds great, instead of one person being in a coma, they’ll all just die…

      • More Intellectual

        so…you were kinda itchin’ for that comment , weren’t you? You’re just..well…dumb.

      • Most Intellectual

        What the deuce?

      • Intellectualissimo

        What the tres?

      • Even More Intellectual


    • 51Phantom

      Yeah, that way he drive it into the ground like a lawn dart!

  • sammy

    Amen Brother Nash!

  • ChinaHarry

    What’s wrong with you fools? The sentence will be overturned or, if not overturned, it will not be implemented. If implemented, it will not be enforced. It just shows up the law as a foolish game being played by politicians. If the guy killed someone, then execute him – manslaughter or negligent homicide – so what’s the difference? Who cares? His behavior has shown him to be a danger to society in a big wat. It’s you who has got to live in that state with that idiot.

    • george

      I agree that the sentence will most likely be overturned or simply not enforced. It sounds like an interesting idea, but surely there are sentencing guidelines in place that make a lifetime driving ban improper. My other problem with the sentence is that the judge is basically telling a 17-year-old teenager that he will never grow up and become mature enough to drive safely. That’s quite a presumptuous thing to assume, isn’t it? Maybe the kid will remain irresponsible forever — and maybe not! The judge is not a soothsayer and shouldn’t be passing judgment on the person this boy will become in a few more years.

      • robert preston

        Nah — the judge in fact is telling the punk to move to another state. Hopefully yours. There he can legally drive and go out and kill somebody. The kid’s a punk, and you’re making excuses for him. You will probably vote for even more hope and change. Thanks, loser.

      • Macfad

        Hey George, guess what? The man is called a “JUDGE” for a reason. Yes he DOES get to “pass judgement”, that’s what judges get paid to do!!

    • joej

      right, but hopefully it is a lot of work for the kid, and a big enough pain in the butt, to re-instate his license, that maybe “next time” he will think a bit more before repeating a similar stunt…

  • mike

    the judge is an idiot. if the kid is a danger to society, charge him with a crime and prosecute him accordingly, but taking away his ability to drive for the rest of his life is inappropriate. want him off the road for the rest of his life? put him in jail. that would be appropriate if he did something to deserve that punishment, but this judge acted inappropriately. this is america, not nazi germany.

    • bob

      He’s a danger to society when driving. As far as we know, he was never a danger while walking. Appropriate sentence

    • Dupree

      I agree. Prosecute with jail time to make a message. Otherwise, how will this kid eventually support himself as an adult if he cannot drive to work. Why don’t we just put him directly on welfare while we are at it.

      • vtwin

        how will this kid eventually support himself as an adult if he cannot drive to work

        Ever hear of a bicycle? Buses? Car pooling? Telecommuting? Work-from-home?
        I guess not.

    • joej

      i disagree. It is a huge $$ cost to the state to put him in prison. It is no $$ cost to simply revoke his license. And think how embarrassed his parents must be from this national attention. Maybe they can scare him straight. “Stop embarrassing us!”

      • Georgiasaraann

        I wonder where the parents are. Was he driving one of their cars? You really have to keep the keys hidden in a situation like this. He’s 17 and hopefully will mature. If he loses his license forever, so be it. Better he and other people are alive and inconvenienced than dead with his license in his pocket.

  • Steve

    Bush caused the wreck.

    • jose

      Dam, beat me to it! It’s Bush’s fault

    • michael

      I bounced a check at the supermarket yesterday. Bush’s fault!

  • jose

    Too bad Judgie Wudgie does not do the same for drunk drivers? How many drunk drivers has he permanently banned. Seems a no brainer to overturn on appeal.

  • Republicrat

    He can just get a DL in another state. Per the Constitution, CT has to recognize an out of state DL (full faith and credit clause).

    • American Fatty

      Will be difficult since most states are parties to the Drivers License Compact.

    • Robbob

      If you are revoked/barred in one state, no other state will issue you a license.

      • Doug

        Not true. Some states don’t honor reciprocity.

    • egomaniac

      The Driver’s License Compact applies to all states except for Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. Massachusetts is close by.

      • Doug

        Actually, you are somewhat correct. If your privilege to drive is suspended in your home state getting a license from another state will not restore your right to drive in your home state. You will still be arrested. However, if drive outside of your home state on your new license there is nothing that can be done on a state level. However, it is a federal violation of law to obtain more than one state license to avoid sanctions on your home state license. Is it ever enforced? Mostly on commercial vehicle operators.

  • ADM

    This judge has ruined this kid’s future, if this ruling is allowed to stand. Fine and jail him. Take his license away for five years. But for the rest of his life? That’s sick.

    • Aldo

      This is the RI Judiciary… He is not even a Judge but a Magistrate!!

      Guglietta is a political hack.. Guglietta, who has most recently served as chief legal counsel to the House of Representatives, was nominated to the position by Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams. Guglietta was chosen by Chief Justice Williams following interviews with five individuals recommended to him by a three-person nominating commission he appointed.

      US Constitution -Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted”. The general principles the United States Supreme Court relied on to decide whether or not a particular punishment was cruel and unusual were determined by Justice William Brennan.In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, “There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.”

      The “essential predicate” is “that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,” especially torture.
      “A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.”
      “A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.”
      “A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary.”

      I think any REASONABLE person would judge this to be patently unnecessary!!!

      • bob

        Cruel and unusual? That’s quite a stretch. He can always walk or take public transit. How about the kid in a coma? Is his future ruined?

      • Dorsey


        One needs to remember that a drivers licenses is a privilage not a right, it can be taken away at any time.

      • James G

        I am a pretty reasonable person, and I believe strongly in the “reasonable person” doctrine that is taken from common law.

        But, a lifetime ban is not really a lifetime ban, under state law.

        The kid has future methods of applying to get his license back under the current state laws. He is entitled to due process, and he is receiving it, and will continue to receive it under the law.

        If this was really the end of it, and he was denied the right to drive forever with no appeal or due process, a reasonable person would be on your side. But that is not the situation he faces.

        Let the law and the ruling play out. If the kid straightens up, he will get his license back.

    • Dave

      I disagree. The judge did NOT ruin this kid’s life…he did it himself. That’s the problem these days, no one wanting to take responsibility for one’s own actions. This individual did NOT have to text while driving, but being the “indestructible” teen with the attitude of “it won’t happen to me,” chose to do just that. He ought to count his blessings that he ONLY got his driving privileges revoked. His friends weren’t so lucky.

      • bob

        ooh he has to live with hurting his friend. that must be worse than being in a coma or death. a rapist has to live with hurting a woman. that’s enough punishment. a murderer has to live with taking someone’s life. no prison time needed for him. grow up steele. stop defending your son or friend. whoever that idiot is to you

      • Steele

        And he has to live with the fact that he hurt his friends, a far harsher punishment than any a judicial system can ever inflict. Not to mention the lawsuits for civil damages against his parents necessary to pay for his friends doctor and healthcare after the accident. The fallout from this without this ludicrious ruling would be lifelong.

        I have a better idea, why not, and this is absolutely brilliant, why don’t we just start branding people’s crimes on their forheads, so they make big red welts they wear for life. We could call them scarlet letters. And then everyone would know every mistake you ever made in your entire life by what letters you wore. Get a clue. this is insanity.

      • Dave

        My bad, I thought the article said that he was texting, when he was reckless driving. That does not change anything, though.

    • Robbob

      He was already revoked when this accident happened.

    • joej

      I disgree. A jail record will be much harder on a future career. A revoked license? With some work, demonstrations of “good faith”, and retaking a class and test, he’ll have his license within a few years. I think the judge did the “for life” just to draw media attention and embarrass the family. It worked.
      I predict the family sues the judge next.

    • manup

      the judge ruined this kid’s future???? HUH???…he had a suspended license….was driving anyway… violating all sort of laws. at what point did the judge give him keys to the vehicle and say party on garth???. And where are the parents in all this??? whole thing is grandstanding as the kid already didnt care about the suspended license so why should he care about the revocation??

  • James

    Unfortunately, that is utopian thinking and is not a real world solution.

  • Steve


  • geo

    are judges elected in CT?..is he running for office?

  • KG

    Raise the driving age to 20. There is way more traffic and distractions than, let’s say, just 30 years ago. Allow them to mature and live.

    • Heemer

      KG, you’re on to something, but why stop there? Let’s raise the driving age to 45 and then tell people that they have to give their licenses back when they get to be too old, say 46. I’ll bet all this bleating about driving being a privilege would change real quickly if we were to do that!

  • KB

    I suppose the judge can try this, but Connecticut’s laws regarding the issuance of a STATE Drive License could only be enforced in that state, or any other state in which Connecticut had a current MOA.

  • Tom

    I’d bet any money this is an illegal sentence. If CT is anything like PA where I live, the statutes determine the suspension for any offense, not some judge who decides to play God.

    For those who think this is great, how do you expect this kid to ever work if he can’t drive a car?

    • Dave

      Ride the bus, walk, taxi, ride with fellow employees, bicycle, etc, etc.

      • bob

        @Tyler – That’s why you work at mcdonalds. Most people living in New York don’t have a car.

      • Tyler

        I wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t have their own car.

    • manup

      hey Tom…I don’t know about PA but in most states i’ve ever been in they have these things called buses. I take one daily and am one of the 1%

  • Fred

    At 17, he should have known better… unless he had engaged in s3xual acts with his teacher, in which case he would have been an innocent victim.

  • Fred

    I don’t know if Google makes them, but MTD has a few of those “self-driving” things around my town… they’re called buses

    • Grace

      Or Polish up the bike.

  • Dorsey

    I think the one thing we all need to remember is that having a drivers licenses is a privilege not a right, it can be taken away for any reason or no reason at all. This entitlement society is going to drive us into the ground. Way to go judge.

    • White

      “I think the one thing we all need to remember is that having a drivers licenses is a privilege not a right, it can be taken away for any reason or no reason at all.”

      Privilege because the government tells you so. You have the right to travel, therefore you have the right to use any mean you wish to travel. Of course, you should continue to brown nose the government, I am sure it loves you back, dog.

      • Denver

        Eric: Do this some time. Fly into any big city west of the Appalachians and east of California and try getting to the next town without a car. Much of America is like that, even if your little liberal enclave isn’t. Fortunately, out here in the middle, we don’t obsess over such silliness. If we have to drive, we drive, and it doesn’t matter if our government says it’s okay. Our government is corrupt. We no longer care what it says or thinks.

      • Eric

        White, you are completely wrong. For one thing, he is under 18. He is a juvenile. He is conditionally allowed a license only because his parents signed something that granted him permission and accepted responsibility for him. They can revoke it at any time, or for no reason at all.

        Driving is NOT a legal “right” in any of the 50 states and never has been.

        You have a right to travel, but there are available alternatives to driving. Being able to drive your own car is a convenience, not a necessity.

        Even your actual civil RIGHTS can be taken away if you violate the social contract. That’s what the Founders said. Your rights end when you violate the rights of others. People who are driving down the highway minding their own business and making a reasonable and prudent effort not to endanger others have a RIGHT to be free from kuckleheads who speed and otherwise put people in danger. If you violate their rights, then the courts absolutely DO have the legal right to deny your driving privilege. They revoke licenses all the time for reckless driving, drunk driving, etc.

        This is a civil society, not anarchy. You do NOT have a right to do as you please all the time and without consequences.

      • obamasadope

        OK, I want to be able to fly an F/A18 without a license! Yeehahhhhhh!

      • Eric

        White: Can the right to keep and bear arms be denied to criminals? Yes or no?

        If you say, “yes”, then please explain the difference here.

        ALL rights can be taken away if you violate the rights of others. That’s how it works.

    • Aldo

      But for life? Come on….

      • bob

        It says he can apply to get it back. Perhaps when he is more mature in 10 or 20 years.

      • Dorsey

        I do agree that is a little harsh.

  • mark edward marchiafava

    it’s beyond time you people learn driving is a RIGHT and not a privilege.
    Quit drinking the Kool Aid.

    • Stevie

      Couldn’t agree more, Mark Edward. We all have the right to move freely. Law enforcement’s laws only derive from the consent of the governed. Some of these readers are in for a real shock when Greece hits closer to home.

    • Eric

      Driving is not a legal right in any of the 50 states. You have it backwards.

    • Dorsey

      You better check again high speed, you do not have a right to a drivers licenses.

      • Eddie Haskell

        You don’t need a license to drive, Dorsey. Best of all, without one, you don’t need insurance either. Think things through, please.

      • mark edward marchiafava

        I never said anyone has a right to a driver’s license, as the word “license,” itself, means “permission.” What I DID say is driving is a right. Do us all a favor, learn the difference.

    • Georgiasaraann

      Because you say so? What gives you the right to drive? What makes you think it is a right? It is not given to you by law. You have to have a license to drive and qualify for that license. You also have to pay for the license and pay for the insurance. That makes it a privilege and not an automatic right. If you violate driving laws, that privilege is revoked. See above case.

  • Rick

    The judge is my hero!

    But with a slick lawyer, he’ll probably get it back in a year or two.

    Maybe the judge should’ve sent the punk to the State Pen for a year to scare the kid straight!!

    • Steele

      Rick, I bet if we all stood in judgement over your life, you’d deserve a lot more than a year in the state pen, you just never got caught like this kid did. Everyone makes stupid mistakes, don’t treat stupidity like depraved indifference. It is not the same thing.

      • bob

        How do you know? Do you know Rick? Has Rick put anyone in a coma? Perhaps you are projecting your guilt and lifestyle onto everyone else

      • Eric

        Amen, Bob! I don’t know when being immune to the consequences of our own actions became a “right.”

        Probably about the same time when expecting someone to perform work in exchange for money became “demeaning.”

      • bob

        Everyone makes stupid mistakes and everyone has to pay the consequences when faced with the results

      • joej

        Steele – don’t know what guilty past is haunting you, but you should really find a professional to talk it out with. I would argue that *most* of us have nothing remotely close to this in our past. But then, that is my experience, and clearly yours must be different.

      • Georgiasaraann

        Steele, he drove on a suspended license. That pretty much sums up depraved indifference. Good Lord. Don’t ever raise any sons. Mine were more afraid of me than any judge. You would excuse anything stupid they purposely did and they would have absolutely no respect for you.

    • Joe

      Or maybe Penn State??

  • jsmith

    “Topa was driving with a suspended license at the time of the accident, according to The Westerly Sun.”

    So now he’ll just drive without a license. Problem solved!

    • Dave

      Unfortunately you are probably right. He was already driving on a suspended license at the time of the crash, so what’s to stop him from getting back behind the wheel again? Other than some time in the klink, of which I believe is where he belongs.

      • Stevie

        Dave, the clink is full because the same morons that think driving is a privilege can’t seem to get their little minds around the problem that such a nonsensical statement creates. Throw him in jail, by all means. Throw everyone who drinks and drives in jail. Any idea how many more cells we’re going to need? 1.4 million according to the FBI. Here’s a question for ya, Dave. Where are we gonna get the money to build 1.4 million jail cells?

      • Georgiasaraann

        Stevie, driving is a privilege. You have to qualify and pay for a license. You must have auto insurance and pay for that. You must also obey driving laws. It is not an automatic right. Drunk drivers do go to jail and to prison. Happens all the time. They do not like jail and hopefully will learn not to drink and drive. Drunk drivers also pay huge sums of money to probation officers and fines, so they are paying part of their court costs. They also must do community service. You may have noticed them picking up trash along the roadsides. And Stevie, taxes go to building jail cells. Which is a fine use of my money.

  • truther

    we need more things like this happening for a variety of dangerous things people do while driving, id like to see this for dui’s, texting or being on the phone while driving etc. lets send a message

  • Karen

    As the parent of teenagers, I want to say thank you to the judge. Our town has lost 10 students to car accidents in the last year. I hope every high school makes kids do a report on this story.

    • Steele

      As a parent of teenagers, I hope your child suffers the same, so you can see how insane a life time ban really is. Lifetime isn’t like ‘a year’, for a 17 year old thats a 60 year ban. Get a clue.

      • Eric

        A juvenile court judge can’t issue a lifetime driving ban. The kid will be able to get a license when he turns 18, or possibly 21. Either way, you need to relax. Jeez, he already drives without a license anyway, and no way he’ll have insurance after this. (Assuming he did in the first place.) Do you really want him out there?

        Get a clue.

      • obamasadope

        I hope I don’t live near your obviously undisciplined and spoiled brats.

      • bob

        if your or his kids do the same stupid things repeatedly, they deserve the same punishment

      • James G

        Perhaps you need to get a clue.

        Lifetime is not lifetime under state law. The kid can apply to get his license back, and he will receive due process.

        This case is being blown way out of proportion, since state laws already have built-in procedures for application for reinstatement of a DL.

        Plenty of opportunity for this punk to change his life and get his license back. But, that will be resolved by state boards that deal with this stuff– or perhaps the judge will lift the ban if the kid gets right with society. Either way, he will have plenty of due process.

      • Doug

        Eric… You are incorrect. ANY judge in RI can remove your privilege to drive based on their law. § 31-11-5 Abstracts of court records – Recommendations of judge. The judge of any court in the state may, in his or her discretion, or upon the request of the division of motor vehicles or its agents, furnish to the division of motor vehicles the details of cases which have been heard before the court; and the judge may make an order to the division of motor vehicles as to the suspension of the license of the defendant in cases as he or she may deem necessary. The order shall be binding on the division of motor vehicles.

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