Gaston County creating teen traffic court

Gaston County is starting a teen traffic court to better connect teen drivers to education programs with hopes of preventing traffic fatalities and reducing recidivism.

Young drivers who get a traffic ticket and either show up in court or hire an attorney who asks for a reduction in charges will be referred to the new traffic court, a pilot program, said District Attorney Travis Page.

In the past, teen drivers might have been required to do a driver's education course to receive a reduction in charges.

Now, teen drivers will be required to do more training and classroom work, as well as community service Page said.

"The goal is to make it a painful experience for them, but also an educational experience, something that will stick with them, hopefully prevent traffic fatalities that we see," Page said. "The ultimate goal is to save lives, and that's why we're doing it."

The court in part is a diversion program. Depending on the seriousness of the charge the teen faces, the teen could get the charge dismissed by fulfilling the requirements of the program.

For more serious charges, such as reckless driving, they would be able to get the charge reduced.

"The goal is to kind of shift them from the courtroom to the classroom to where they learn how to be a better driver," Page said.

Page said that often, parents end up paying for it when their teen gets a ticket, either by hiring an attorney or paying an increased insurance bill.

"These teenagers need to understand that they have some skin in the game. This is just a way for us to hold them accountable but also educate them," Page said.

Arin Farmer, the executive director of the Alliance for Children and Youth, came up with the idea for the program, Page said. There are other counties in the state that have successfully implemented it, and Gaston County is hoping to do the same.

"Our expectation for the program is that it be something that's permanent. We want it to be successful because if it's successful, it means we're saving lives," Page said. "We're reducing recidivist traffic offenses and promoting better driving throughout the county."

Page hopes to start the teen driving court in October.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 704-869-1850 or at

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This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Gaston County creating teen traffic court