Visitor Question

Are parents liable for 18 year old son driving his own unregistered car without a license or insurance?

Submitted By: Loretta (Riverside, CA)

My 18 year old son is driving his own car and has no insurance and no driver’s license. The car is not even registered in his name yet as he has not transferred title, and it’s not current with tags. He currently lives at home.

Are my husband and I responsible for our son’s actions? Can we be held liable if we knew he was driving this car illegally and did not report it? What is the law regarding these issues? Thank you for any information you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Loretta,

For legal purposes, in the State of California, at 18 years old your son is considered an adult. As a result, even if he lives with you at home, you should not be responsible (liable) for property damage and/or injuries he may cause while driving.

In California, you are under no legal obligation to report your son to the authorities. You might only be liable under Federal Law 18 U.S. Code Sec 4 – Misprison of Felony if you knew your son used the car to commit a serious crime such as robbery, murder, aggravated sexual assault, or other very serious crime, and you failed to report the crime to authorities.

Federal Law 18 U.S. Code Sec. 4 reads, “Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

To report a crime to State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, go here.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: September 29, 2015

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