First-time drivers recover from first brush with disaster

Avary Hutzelman | Staff Writer

Looking back at it now Peyton Flynn can laugh about her ticket but at the time she was terrified to be ticketed for driving over the speed limit. Flynn admits it has made her a more cautious driver. (pictured behind Flynn is an actual ticket the City of Mason Police department issues to driving offenders).

It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times. 

When a new 16 year old gets their driver’s license it can be a significant step in gaining independence and enjoying the rites of passage for all teenagers. But, in an instance that joy can be ripped away when the new driver looks in their rearview mirror to the flashing red lights of a police officer. 

Sophomore Peyton Flynn knows the feeling of looking in her mirror to see lights flashing and a police officer approaching her car.  Flynn got her license in November 2020. She was ecstatic to be able to drive alone, drive to social functions, to practices and games. Then one evening on the way home from lacrosse practice Flynn was pulled over for going 20 miles over the speed limit.  

“I really wish I wasn’t going that fast,” Flynn said. “I was putting other people in danger too and I should have been paying more attention.”

Flynn’s license was suspended. Now she’s right back where she started, relying on her mom, older sister, and friends to drive her to practices and social events. 

In Ohio, getting a speeding ticket at 16 can potentially result in a license suspension, requirement to pay court fines or restitution for any victim in the offense, probation or community control, or even taking an additional driving course, which Flynn was instructed to do in addition to the suspension of her license. She was required to attend ‘Carteens,’ a driving awareness program for juvenile traffic offenders. 

Sophomore Surge Laprete definitely got a taste of one of those worst of time scenarios when he was involved in an accident just days after getting his license. Laprete and his friends were on their way to his house when it happened.

“I was in the lane to go straight, heading towards my house,” Laprete said. “Somebody tried to get into my lane and brake checked me, [causing] me to rear end them and I got in trouble for it.”

The result of the accident had several repercussions. Laprete has had to deal with having his parents driving him to baseball practices, higher car insurance rates, and coming up with the money to pay for things insurance didn’t cover. Even though the damage to the car didn’t require major repairs, the accident still caused him to think differently when it comes to driving.

“You need to be extra careful,” Laprete said. “Especially leaving the school since there’s a lot of traffic. If you have a court hearing, listen to the judge and pay attention.” 

Sophomore Evin Crowley didn’t lose his license when he was involved in an accident but now he is without a car. He was involved in an accident. Even though police determined that no one was at fault, Crowley is still feeling the sting of being involved in a car crash. He can’t get over the fact that he chose to be the driver that night for him and his friends.  That night, Crowley and his friends had been discussing who was going to drive. 

Nobody was injured in the accident and Crowley’s parents were not overly upset after he explained the entire situation to them. His accident resulted in his car being totaled, leaving him incapable of getting around. Although he was not at fault, Crowley has become a more aware driver after the incident.

“Now when I drive, I’m way more cautious,” Crowley said. “I’m [always] checking my surroundings. I’d say it made me a much better driver.” 

Photo contributed by Peyton Flynn