A.R.S. 28-3474 provides that “A person who knowingly causes or permits the person’s child or ward or any person under eighteen years of age to drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the person is not authorized under this chapter or in violation of this chapter is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor. ”
What does it mean to let an unauthorized minor drive?
If you let someone who is under 18 years old and who is not properly licensed drive your car, you could be charged with a crime. We see a few different situations that result in this charge:
The owner of a car (or someone in control, like a person borrowing their parent’s car) lets a minor drive the car. The minor has no license whatsoever. The car owner rides along as a passenger. Then the minor commits some moving violation like speeding and gets pulled over. The minor gets ticketed with a bunch of charges. This will include whatever violation was the basis for the traffic stop, as well as driving without a valid license. The passenger car owner get a criminal ticket for letting the unlicensed minor drive.
Another situation involves two minors. Minor A owns the car and is licensed. Minor B has an instruction permit, a.k.a. a learners permit. A learners permit requires that Minor B be accompanied by a person who is fully licensed and who is 21 years of age or older. Both minors go out in the car with Minor B driving. Then Minor B commits a moving violation and gets pulled over. The police officer commences ticket writing and Minor A gets a criminal ticket for letting Minor B drive.
What are the consequences of permitting an unauthorized minor to drive?
This is not a moving violation, so there are no points that will result. It is a criminal charge though, a class 2 misdemeanor to be specific. A class 2 misdemeanor carries the potential for up to a $750 fine plus surcharges of about $630, up to 4 months in jail, and 2 years probation. In practice, most drivers will face the criminal conviction with a fine far less than the maximum, no jail time and no probation.
How do you fight this kind of ticket?
This is a charge we would describe as clerical or administrative – a paperwork violation like an insurance violation or driving on a suspended license. Either the minor was properly licensed or they weren’t. If they were properly licensed, then that’s a fantastic defense. If the minor was not properly licensed, then there probably is not much of a factual defense.
When we represent someone with this charge, we first want to make sure that the unlicensed minor gets a proper license. The defendant may not have much control over that, but we think this helps the negotiation process. Beyond that, we work to leverage the defendant’s good background and try to negotiate an improved outcome that ideally avoids the criminal conviction.