Seattle to Adopt a Youth Traffic Court

If you’re under 18 and get pulled over in Seattle, you might not get a ticket—but that doesn’t mean you won’t pay. Seattle University School of Law has partnered up with Garfield High School to create a new Seattle Youth Traffic Court. Students at Garfield will staff every part of the court, from the judge to the jury and court reporters. The court will only deal with minor traffic infractions (those that do not involve any injuries.) Students will be encouraged to practice “restorative justice;” forming creative solutions to keep students from repeating the same mistakes. If you find yourself in the Seattle Youth Traffic Court in lieu of a ticket you might be sentenced to an essay for your school paper or chores for the person whose property you damaged.

Law students from Seattle University will be coaching the students on their different roles, and all those who appear before the court must serve on a jury there twice in the future (in addition to whatever sentence is handed down to them by the court.) It’s more than allowing those who appear before the court to keep their record clean of rookie mistakes (or save their parents some money on insurance) but also to get everyone involved to think about the larger implications of their actions. When you are in the car, it can be difficult to see how allowing yourself to be distracted by friends or a phone can affect others. With the Youth Court, perhaps the offenders and court members alike will begin to understand the broader affect those dangerous choices can have. Hearing it from an adult is one thing, and let’s face it, they already have. Being able to come to conclusions on your own or collaboratively with your peers creates a much more substantial and long-term effect on behavior.

Sound off below– is this a good idea, or should teenagers just be ticketed like everyone else?

Learn more about the Seattle Youth Traffic Court.