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

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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