Is anowner liableif theyallowed anunlicensed drive to operate their vehicle?

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Is anowner liableif theyallowed anunlicensed drive to operate their vehicle?

Our 17 year old son wrecked our car, and received a ticket for failure to yield right of way or something like that. The driver of the other vehicle, a truck, did not have a driver’s license and should not have been driving. He received a ticket for no driver’s license/unlawful operation of a motor vehicle, and the owner of the truck received a ticket for allowing unlicensed driver to operate his vehicle. Even though accident was my son’s fault, why should we be liable for their truck? If an unlawful driver wasn’t on road there wouldn’t have been an accident.

Asked on February 28, 2011 under Accident Law, North Carolina

Answers:

Elizabeth Noble / Leone Noble & Seate, LLP

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, civil liability in North Carolina is not affected because the the operator of the truck did not have a valid driver's license.  That will remain strictly a criminal traffic matter.  Issues such as whether a driver had a valid operator's license, or even if the parties wore their seatbelts are irrelevant in civil cases as regards to negligence.  Sorry the law isn't more helpful to you. I do hope your son was okay.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Because operating a vehicle without a license is a violation punishable by a fine under most state laws.  It is not what the law calls an "indicia of negligence."   In other words, it does not mean that you are a bad driver because you have a license any more than it mean that you are a good driver if you do have a license. And it does not mean that you did anything wrong in the operation of a motor vehicle because you do not have a license anymore than it means that you did not do anything wrong because you do have one.  So if your son was found to be negligent and liable for the accident he is responsible. 


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