You may one day find yourself in a situation where you need to borrow a person's car, but might not be able to ask their permission. Sounds crazy, right?

Photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash
Photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash

There are many situations where you might end up having to use a friend or family members car without their permission. An immediate family member could be out of town and you need to use their car to run to the store real quick. Maybe you're at a friends house, they are asleep and you decide to borrow their car to pick up some food. It could be a situation where your girlfriend or boyfriend is working from home and you decide to slide out to run some errands without asking them to use their vehicle. You could just not want to drive your car and decide to take your siblings car instead, leaving your keys for them to drive your car. Maybe you need to drive a drunk friend's car, but they are passed out and unable to give you permission (and hate for anyone to drive their car). Maybe there's an emergency situation and you have access to a friend or family member's keys, but cant reach them on the phone to get permission.

If a time comes that you need to drive someone else's car and don't get permission before you do, you could face some legal trouble in New York. It wouldn't neccessarily be grand theft auto, but it could be against the law. You could also be breaking the law if they give you permission to use their vehicle for a specific task and you deviate from that without their permission.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

It's Illegal To Use Someone's Car In New York Without Permission

Hopefully, if you ever find yourself in any of the situations mentioned above, your friend or family member will be understanding. But, we do live in a world where people prioritize possessions over people, so you might be out of luck. Or, the unfortunate situation could happen where you damage or crash their vehicle, and they decide to press charges. New York State law is quite clear about borrowing a car without permission.

A person is guilty of unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third
degree when:

1. Knowing that he does not have the consent of the owner, he takes,
operates, exercises control over, rides in or otherwise uses a vehicle.
A person who engages in any such conduct without the consent of the
owner is presumed to know that he does not have such consent; or

2. Having custody of a vehicle pursuant to an agreement between
himself or another and the owner thereof whereby he or another is to
perform for compensation a specific service for the owner involving the
maintenance, repair or use of such vehicle, he intentionally uses or
operates the same, without the consent of the owner, for his own
purposes in a manner constituting a gross deviation from the agreed
purpose; or

3. Having custody of a vehicle pursuant to an agreement with the owner
thereof whereby such vehicle is to be returned to the owner at a
specified time, he intentionally retains or withholds possession
thereof, without the consent of the owner, for so lengthy a period
beyond the specified time as to render such retention or possession a
gross deviation from the agreement.

It is considered a Class A misdemeanor according to NYS penal code. So, don't assume it's innocent to borrow a friend or family member's car without asking. You may find yourself in legal trouble if they decide to get the law involved.

***This article is not intended to provide legal advice or counsel.

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