Daughter is pushing against the rule about driving other teens

Hello Wise Community,

My 17-year-old daughter got her driver's license a little over 3 months ago. Legally, she cannot transport anyone under 20 until she turns 18 in September. She is a good kid and generally follows rules. However, she's pushing hard against this one, telling me that I am the only parent who expects her to follow this law. Her friend's parents allow them to transport friends if they clear who/when/where in advance. She is particularly pushing to drive a teammate on her school lacrosse team to a game for which a team bus is not available. In addition to the state law, the school has a rule that students are not to drive each other to school events regardless of age. 

While I appreciate she (reluctantly and with hesitation) asked me about this, my instinct is to hold firm to both the school rule and the state law. Am I an outlier here?

Parent Replies

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Stay firm. It is not worth the penalties from the DMV and from your insurance carrier if anything were to go bad. You are not the only parent who follows the law.

Pretty sure your insurance would be void if she got in an accident. No way is it worth it. We have an almost 17-year old who will be getting his license soon and we will absolutely abide by this law.

You are not the only one -- we enforced the one-year rule for our son, too. Got the same complaints from him. Still held firm. It's so important for them to have that time to learn and be comfortable with driving before adding other young people to the mix.

Like another respondent, I concur that holding firm is the only way to go on this issue. It's essentially another version of, "Come on! All the other kids are doing it..."

Using both validation and firmness worked for us two years ago when our daughter was in the same training phase. We said, " We get that it's frustrating. It sucks that you have this newfound way to be helpful to others--but you're not permitted too. And we just can't take that risk: the liability for us is too great. Your ability to understand this and to follow the state guidelines and our own is what will give us confidence that you're ready for the privilege of using our car." If she continues to push, you could try a version of: "When you continue to push after hearing our firm "No," it makes us wonder if you're really ready to use our car. We'd hate to have to limit or revoke this privilege, but we would do that if we suspect that you're not abiding by our rules and the state law." I mean, you can add some loving words before, in-between and after, but that's the basic message--or at least it was for us. How much our kids actually sneak around this rule is another matter. 
You might also want to check with your insurance company to see if they have anything in small print about your coverage being compromised if a minor driver violates CA state requirements and is involved in an accident. (On a related matter, many people don't know that their home owner's liability may not cover them if they hire workers who come onto their property that don't carry their own liability insurance--that's in the fine print--spread the word that people should contact their own insurers. We continued to hire workers through our gardener, but hired bonded professionals to get up on ladders or anything that involved a higher degree of risk than weeding.)  Good luck with your teenager! - Sarah

Stay strong -- I had the same situation, though now, there is no need to drive anyone anywhere.  We talked about getting pulled over by police and insurance rates and said just tell your friends "sorry"

You are not the only person following this rule. The only exception we allowed was a carpool to and from school. And the only reason we allowed that was because there was a parent working at home on the after school end of the carpool so we knew that they didn't take any detours on the way home. Stand firm and follow the law. 

You're not the only parent following the state law.  <rollingeyeemoji> If I had a dollar for every time my kids complained similarly .....  

The downside is way bigger than any upside.


She can lose her license if caught.  Maybe THAT will persuade her. 

I agree with all the other parents I would totally stand firm. I did not allow my son to drive with folks illegally and I wouldn’t allow him to drive anyone either. You know insurance companies, they could refuse to cover it if she was in an accident. They could also refuse to ensure her period after that. Plus I hate to tell you this but teenagers get in accidents all the time because they’re new drivers. She does need to drive and get experience but you don’t wanna risk her friends getting injured. Of course she claims all of her friends parents allow it - because that’s always what teenagers say! I’m sure there are other parents that are standing firm as well. Besides, you will have many of these discussions in the future and it really is OK to set a boundary.

Stay firm.  My son doesn't drive but only can get rides with friends who have been driving a year.  Period.  No exceptions.

There's a reason for that law.

She shouldn't be starting her adult life by breaking the law, either, actually!

Obviously a safety issue but another consideration: how you respond shows how you regard following the law. I think it is important to model that it is important to obey the law, not just when it is convenient. 

This law is very hard for parents to enforce, because the kids will just stop asking/telling you when they have people in the car. The best deterrent is when all the parents of the friend group agree that their kids absolutely cannot ride with one another until it’s legal. That said, I know my son and his friends were taking each other out for lunch or going out after school when parents were not aware. The silver lining was that he told me that when he had kids in the car he drove extra cautiously- well below the speed limit, signaling, full stops, etc. because he didn’t want to get pulled over. This is a kid who got two tickets in one year while driving alone, so... Anyway, it will be an annoying year, but it goes fast. Try to get the other parents on board. Good luck!