California Penal Code Section 193.8(a) PC: Relinquishing Possession Of A Vehicle To A Minor

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimerelinquishing car possession

Learning to drive and obtaining a driver’s license is a cherished rite of passage for most teenagers, who are often very eager to drive on their own. However, an adult must be careful when turning over car keys to a minor, as there may be situations in which doing so is against the law. Under California Penal Code Section 193.8(a) PC relinquishing possession of a vehicle to a minor is a criminal offense in certain situations.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of unlawfully relinquishing possession of a motor vehicle to a minor, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements:

  1. The defendant was an adult in possession of a motor vehicle or the registered owner of a motor vehicle.

  2. The defendant relinquished possession of the vehicle to a minor for the purpose of driving and one of the following conditions existed:

    1. The adult owner or person in possession of the vehicle knew or reasonably should have known that the minor was intoxicated at the time possession was relinquished.

    2. A petition was sustained or the minor was convicted of a violation of wet reckless pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC, Driving Under the Influence in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC, Driving with a BAC of 0.08 or above in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC, Under 21 DUI with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.07 percent per California Vehicle Code Section 23140 VC, DUI Causing Injury in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated pursuant to California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) PC, Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated per California Penal Code Section 191.5(b) PC or vessel manslaughter in violation of California Penal Code Section 192.5(a) PC.

  3. AND the minor does not otherwise have a lawful right of possession to the vehicle.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor - California Penal Code Section 272 PC
3. Examples

A man agrees to watch his 17-year-old nephew for a week. The nephew is impressed with the man’s new sports car and asks his uncle if he can borrow it for a night out with his friends. The man knows that his nephew previously had a petition sustained against him in juvenile court for wet reckless in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC. However, the man agrees to lend his vehicle to his nephew for the night. The man could be charged with unlawfully relinquishing possession of a motor vehicle to a minor in violation of California Penal Code Section 193.8(a) PC.

In another example, a man has reservations at a popular downtown restaurant and decides to use the services of the valet parking offered by the establishment. When he hands his keys over to the valet, he notices that the valet is obviously a minor under 18 and appears to be under the influence of alcohol. Nevertheless, the man provides his car because he does not want to lose his reservation. This man would not be criminally liable under California Penal Code Section 193.8(a) PC because the statute specifically does not apply to parking arrangements, whether or not for compensation, provided by hotels, motels or food facilities for customers, guests, or other invitees thereof.

4. Defenses to Relinquishing Possession of a Motor Vehicle to a Minor

There may be situations where it is necessary to give possession of a motor vehicle to a restricted minor, such as when there is a medical emergency. In these situations, the defendant would have a strong necessity defense if charged with a crime.

In addition, there may be situations where an adult must relinquish possession of a motor vehicle to a restricted minor because they are under duress, such as where they are being carjacked. In these situations, the defendant could raise a valid duress defense if charged criminally.

5. Penalties

Unlawfully relinquishing possession of a motor vehicle to a minor is a misdemeanor offense. Those convicted of this offense can be sentenced to up to six months in jail, expensive court fines, required community labor or community service, and any other applicable conditions of probation.

6. Criminal Defense for Relinquishing Possession of a Motor Vehicle to a Minor Cases

If you have been charged with unlawfully relinquishing possession of a motor vehicle to a minor, it is very important that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is highly capable of defending those accused of crimes such as this. Mr. Kraut is a dedicated advocate who fights hard on behalf of his clients.

For more information about relinquishing possession of a motor vehicle to a minor, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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