Rhode Island Teen Has License Revoked For Life

How many of you have been in a “fender bender“? Nothing too serious, just a little bumps and some scratches. How many of you have totaled a car in an accident? Everyone was a little shaken up but mostly okay. What kind of punishment did you get? A few points on your license? A fine? Maybe even had your license revoked for a short time? How would you feel if the judge told you that you couldn’t drive for the rest of your life? I don’t know about you, but I would have been outraged! I would have felt that it was unfair treatment.

I am sure that that is the way that Lyle Topa, a 17 year old Rhode Island (former) driver, felt when he was handed his sentence by Rhode Island magistrate, William Guglietta of the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. At the time of the accident, Topa was driving on a suspended license. Topa and three other teenager passengers were at a party, drinking alcohol before the accident. One of the passengers, a 16 year old named John LaMotte, was in a coma for weeks following the accident, while the others walked away mostly unscathed.

After having given the sentence, Guglietta said that he hoped that the dramatic sentence would make other teens think twice before being so careless. The sentence was given after Topa pleaded no contest to multiple violations, including violating seat belt laws, overtaking where prohibited, and speeding. The judge agreed to drop several charges, including being out past designated curfew and graduated license violations of having too many passengers in the car at the time and leaving the lane of travel and failure to maintain control of the vehicle.

Do you think the sentence was a little harsh? Would you have done the same? How would you have felt if you had received that penalty? Leave a comment and let us know how you would feel.


  1. No, not ttoo harsh. I think it is a very important message. there are many people out there should not ever drive again.
    How many people out there can not ever drive becasue of the poor choices of awrecklesss driver casuing great bodily harm.
    driving is privelge, not a right.

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