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View Full Version : Under-age driving question


tidejwe
09-19-07, 05:29 AM
Obviously it is illegal for someone "under age" to drive on the public streets, that is not actually my question...

Bytheway, I personally am 28...but I have some siblings-in-law who are 13-15yrs old, who continually BEG me to take them driving in a church parking lot (I live in Utah, and it seems like every other block has an LDS church with a HUGE parking lot).

Someone told me that it is legal for underage teenagers to drive around in church parking lots because they are considered Private property and not "Public" roadways or even public parking lots since they're completely private property, and thus an official driver's license is not actually necessary because they aren't using public transportation routes. I know of many parents who have taken their teenagers to nearby church parking lots to practice driving for this same reason.

My question is whether this is true or not. My mother-in-law and father-in-law are OK with it, but I want to make sure it is actually LEGAL for me to teach them how to drive in the church parking lot when they aren't 16 yet. I know that just because I know of others who have done it doesn't mean it's actually legal. Can I get in trouble for it if I do let them practice driving, or teach them to drive/park, etc if it's in a church parking lot? Obviously, I wouldn't let them drive there with other cars in the lot, etc. Maybe even just late at night when there's nobody around (less obstacles, etc). Obviously I'd never let them drive without me sitting right next to them and never without their parent's consent (I already have it if I decide to).

What legal issues would I run into? How would YOU handle such a situation if you found someone in a big church parking lot teaching a couple 14 year olds how to drive? How would other officers you know handle it? If I did take them driving in the church parking lot, and an officer actually does "pull us over", what would you suggest I do/say, etc? Any other suggestions/Advice anything to take into account at all regarding this kind of situation?

I appreciate in advance ANYONE who takes the time to respond either way! :) I am just trying to find out the truth on the matter instead of believing random rumors, and thought asking you experts would be the best place to start before making any decisions! Thank you!

(EDIT: PS sorry for the red thumbs down icon by the subject...I thought it was a question mark at first glance, and now I can't change it...oops) :)


TX-LEO
09-19-07, 06:31 AM
Unless they were being reckless, there's nothing I can do about it in Texas. However set wheel on a public street and you both get ticketed. I could cite the 14 year old driver for no insurance if I wanted to in the parking lot since I'm going to bet anything the vehicle insurance doesnt cover unlicensed drivers whether you give permission to drive or not. Believe it or not, you have to have motor vehicle insurance in TX operating on a public street or highway, or public places, such as parking lots.

In my opinion it's a stupid idea, to put the legal side to the side. You can and will be sued if they cause damage to someone else's vehicle or property ( grass, dog, mailbox ) and wouldn't take on that kind of liability for anyones brats. I guarantee you your insurance will refuse to pay out a claim when they find out you let an juvenile drive. Tell them they need to wait until legal driving age, or find some real private property where the Police wont get called.


ETA, yet ANOTHER poster where they dont tell where they live and will be possibly violating the law. It might be an arrestable offense in some states.

InTheEnd
09-19-07, 08:02 AM
Tell your siblings you'll take them out driving when they get their learners permit and to forget about driving until then.


vengeance05
09-19-07, 11:24 AM
In my state it is illegal even if they are in a parking lot. Since they are under 16, you (the person allowing the unlicensed operation) would be cited. I have had a few drunks who used the defense that they were in a parking lot or had turned into their driveway - it's not homebase. It is still illegal. In the event that a collision occurs it is unlikely that your insurance would cover the damages if the operator was unlicensed. Just tell them to wait until they get a learner's permit.

Taxx
09-19-07, 01:37 PM
Where I live the only way you are getting cited on private property is if you are DUI, suspended or reckless. I like the warnings TX-LEO said. I also understand what it was like to be 15 and want to start learning to drive. Luckily, I had a cow pasture to learn in.

I have seen those church parking lots in Utah and they are BIG. You should be okay, but be ever mindful that you (the adult) are the one that will be sued if something goes bad.

tidejwe
09-19-07, 03:31 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone. After reading what you had to say, I think I'd PROBABLY be ok doing it, but I'll probably stay on the safe side and not take them driving in the first place.

What do you think of the idea of actually CALLING the local PD before hand to ask them or let them know? That way we're obviously not trying to "get away" with anything, etc and they'd know about it from the beginning. Maybe that's a good idea simply just to ensure it's OK in the local area. Thoughts?

In response to "yet ANOTHER poster where they dont tell where they live and will be possibly violating the law. It might be an arrestable offense in some states."

I'm not trying to hide anything, and I don't plan to violate the law. This is specifically why I decided to ASK on here before making any decisions. If you really want to know, I live in Logan, Utah. My in-laws live in Kaysville, Utah. Call them and "WARN" them or whatever you want to do. I honestly have NOTHING to hide. The only illegal thing I've EVER done in my life (in a motor vehicle or otherwise) is drive with a broken brake light I didn't know about, and a very MINOR speeding ticket (9mph over on the freeway, which I personally felt was safe and in the flow of traffic...but such is life). :) I don't plan to do anything intentionally illegal. I'm sure some people come on here to ask you guys things to try to get away with stuff, but that's NOT my intent. :) I simply want to know the legal ramifications in this regard. I DO follow the laws.

I suppose technically/legally speaking, we'd have to get permission from whoever is in charge of the church (Bishop/stake president, etc) to be driving there. That would make sense...if we specifically had the permission of the church to drive there (when nobody was around), and let the local PD know we had permission, and that's what we were doing, that's probably the way to go, right? Still, the "insurance" issue is a good one. Not that I'm worried about them hitting something, but that an officer COULD potentially make a deal out of the situation that obviously they weren't insured, etc and COULD HAVE damaged a person, pet, etc. I'm sure it could be argued somehow that even though the church owns the land/parking lot, it can be seen as public similarly to store parking lots in the sense that I'm sure "anyone is welcome" to come more or less.

Thanks again for the responses! I do appreciate it.

TX-LEO
09-20-07, 12:20 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone. After reading what you had to say, I think I'd PROBABLY be ok doing it, but I'll probably stay on the safe side and not take them driving in the first place.

What do you think of the idea of actually CALLING the local PD before hand to ask them or let them know? That way we're obviously not trying to "get away" with anything, etc and they'd know about it from the beginning. Maybe that's a good idea simply just to ensure it's OK in the local area. Thoughts?

In response to "yet ANOTHER poster where they dont tell where they live and will be possibly violating the law. It might be an arrestable offense in some states."

I'm not trying to hide anything, and I don't plan to violate the law.

Thanks again for the responses! I do appreciate it.

If you posted the state you lived in in the first place you would not need to ask the local police. Odds are they are members of this forum.

The problem is, the posts like yours where there is no information about where you live, makes a big difference in the action taken by the Officer. This has already been highlighted by vengeance05, where it's a crime in a parking lot in his state, vs. NOT a crime as far as not having a driver license in Texas.

Whether you "plan" on violating the law is irrelevant. Ignorance is not an excuse, nor a defense to prosecution. We have this forum for your questions, however we need to know the state you are going to possibly be breaking the law, and in some instance even the county since some agencies handle things differently, county by county even.

ETA: I checked the read-me-first post however I didn't see where it instructed question seekers to post their state of residence. Maybe this should be included?

Officer20
09-21-07, 04:08 PM
(I live in Utah, and it seems like every other block has an LDS church with a HUGE parking lot).


:p :p