Ask any high school student if she wants more freedom, and the answer will likely be a resounding, “Like, yeah.” Georgia high school students who seek that freedom by playing hooky should know that their efforts could seriously backfire.
A Georgia law mandates that students with more than 10 or more unexcused absences face a driver’s license suspension for a year or until they turn 18. And dozens of other states have similar suspension laws on the books.
Georgia’s law has been around for more than 10 years, which means parents and schools have ample time to warn their kids of the biggest bummer about skipping class. But just like so many other lessons, some teens just have to learn the hard way. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in 2010 almost 13,000 of the state’s teens had their licenses suspended for missing 10 or more days of school.
So what do students think of the law? One student, who has friends whose licenses have been suspended, told the Journal-Constitution that it’s a fair trade-off and a good motivator. That’s especially true for freshmen and sophomores counting the days until their 16th birthday. Seniors and older students may be less fazed, since the law only applies until age 18.
It’s difficult to say exactly how big of a deterrent the law is. According to AJC.com, the evidence of whether kids stay in school so they can stay behind the wheel is largely anecdotal. But one school official said that whenever he explains the law, there’s an audible gasp among students.
Although some teens might say the law isn’t fair, they at least won’t be taken by surprise. In many Georgia counties, students and their parents are warned as a truancy record approaches the 5-, 7- or 10-day mark. The goal, after all, is not to get teen drivers off the road, but to keep them at their desks.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, “For teens, skipping class puts brakes on driving,” Nancy Badertscher, Oct. 26, 2011