In Florida, as in most of the country, teens need to be 16 years old and properly licensed to operate a motor vehicle. Despite this, some parents allow their underage and unlicensed children to drive a car. In some cases, children simply take their parents’ car without permission. Unfortunately, some driving video games give children the impression that they can drive. If these underage drivers cause a traffic accident, the resulting legal actions can be quite complex because in many cases it is the parents who are held liable for their children’s behavior.
While there are not very many Florida car accidents caused by underage drivers, underage driving is a concern. Unlicensed minors do not have the training or knowledge to operate a car and are therefore far more likely to cause car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other traffic problems. In most cases, children under the age of 16 who are caught by police behind the wheel of a car are not driving correctly, which is how they are noticed in the first place. In many instances, these children have already caused some property damage or an accident before they are pulled over.
FL Statute 322.35 clearly states that no person can allow their ward or child under the age of 18 to drive their car if the minor is not authorized to do so. The driver’s manual for Florida indicates that allowing an unlicensed person to drive your car can result in a fine or even jail time.
In many cases, Florida underage drivers face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine on the first offence because the incident is often classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. Second offenses are often given a $1000 fine and a year in jail while third offenses are usually classified as a third-degree felony, which can carry a $5000 fine and up to five years of jail time. If an underage driver causes an accident that results in a brain injury or other serious brain injury, usually the parents of the driver face legal action as the victims of the accident try to recover the costs of lost income and medical bills. The owner of the car or the child’s parents may also face jail time and fines, even if no lawsuit is filed.
In many accidents involving underage drivers, speed and carelessness are a contributing factor. In some cases, the untrained and unlicensed drivers simply do not know the rules of the road and therefore cannot adhere to them. In other cases, underage drivers cannot reach the floor pedals or correctly see in the mirrors because they are too young and too small to drive a car. In some cases, fatal Florida car accidents have been caused by drivers who were ten years old or younger.
If you have sustained an injury as a result of a Florida car accident caused by an underage driver, you will need a qualified Florida personal injury attorney. Such cases are challenging. Underage drivers obviously have no insurance and the insurance provider for the car’s owner is typically reluctant to pay any claims on the incident because no underage driver was supposed to be driving the vehicle. In many cases, parents of the driver will not admit to allowing their underage driver to take the car. It takes a good Florida attorney and a team of investigators, in many cases, to determine a pattern of negligence that allowed the driver to get behind the wheel of the car.