Can my mom say that I stole her car if she gave me permission to use it even if I’m an unlicensed driver?

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Can my mom say that I stole her car if she gave me permission to use it even if I’m an unlicensed driver?

Recently, I was put in a situation in which my boyfriend, an unlicensed driver also, had to drive to pick up my roommate. She told him that I said she could drive even though I didn’t. This is how my mom’s car got involved in a hit and run and impounded. Can she say that we stole her car even though she gave me permission to use said car?

Asked on September 13, 2019 under Criminal Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

If she says you took and you say you did not, it will come down to who is more credible: after all, the authorities and the court do not have any information about what happened or what was said other than the testimony and evidence presented to it. If there is written evidence, even texts, to back up one or the other of you, that will be a significant help, as would be any other uninvolved 3rd party testimony (e.g. if some other relative or family friend can testify you were allowed to use the car or had seen you using it, presumably with permission, on other occasions).
If it is just her word, that may not be enough to prove you stole it, for criminal law purposes. However, since you allowed your boyfriend to drive without her permission, especially since he is unlicensed, it is almost a given that you and he are liable for all costs, losses, damage, etc. done in the accident--both costs she has to pay and those paid by anyone you hit. And because you allowed an unlicensed driver to use the car, her insurance will likely not have to pay, so this will fall on you and him.
And, of course, he can face criminal charges for his hit and run.


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