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The Risk of Letting Unauthorized Individuals Drive a Vehicle

February 14, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

In recent news, a Philadelphia woman has had charges of homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter dropped. The case though, is ongoing and has many different facets. While the most serious charges were dropped, the woman is still facing charges.

It was in June of 2018, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer, when Stephanie Hernandez allowed her 15-year-old daughter to drive her vehicle to the Aramingo Village shopping center from their home. The young girl did not have a driver’s license and was months from turning 16. After becoming confused, Hernandez’s daughter accidentally stomped on the gas instead of the brake. The car continued forward while gaining speed, and killed two men sitting on crates near the curb.

The driver’s name is being withheld as the case moves through juvenile court. Hernandez was charged with involuntary manslaughter and homicide by vehicle in July, but those charges have now been dropped. Municipal Court Judge Karen Yvette Simmons stated that Hernandez meant no harm, and that it was an unfortunate accident.

Unfortunately for Hernandez, she still faces charges of permitting an unlicensed driver to operate a vehicle. In Pennsylvania, these charges are very serious.

Pennsylvania Vehicle Code Statute

Statute 1574 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code prohibits a person from allowing another person to drive a vehicle, when that person is not authorized to do so. With Hernandez’s daughter months away from being able to apply for a learner’s permit, she did not have a license of any kind. Hernandez could be found in violation of this statute of the Vehicle Code.

If so, it could have real consequences for Hernandez. Even though this is considered a summary offense, the penalties for being in violation of this law could potentially be severe. According to the law, those found guilty of committing this offense could be held liable for paying for any damages caused by the unauthorized driver.

The Code also states that both the unauthorized driver, and the person that owned or had control of the vehicle at the time, could be held equally responsible for paying for damages. If a judge determines this is the case, Hernandez’s daughter would also be liable for paying for half of the damages.

Reckless Endangerment Criminal Charges

When there is an auto accident and someone is severely hurt or killed, often criminal charges are laid. Facing those charges, and the penalties if one is convicted of them, can be very serious. In some instances, such as traveling more than 35 miles per hour above the posted speed limit, a conviction can even result in jail time.

If you have been charged with an auto-related offense, such as reckless endangerment, you need to speak to a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim as soon as possible. These charges can be very serious, but that does not mean the situation is hopeless. An attorney can provide you with the defense you need and fight for your rights in court. Call us today or fill out our online form so we can start reviewing your case.


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