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Tara Helms
Tara Helms
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Don’t Give Your Car Keys to a Drunk or Careless Driver

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If you do, you could be subject to liability for compensatory and punitive damages if that driver causes a wreck which results in personal injuries. All of us have a legal duty to the public, not to provide a vehicle, or allow a person to drive a vehicle who is incompetent to do so. Incompetency can take many forms such as: inexperience, intoxication, or a bad driving record.

The elements of a cause of action for negligent and/or wanton entrustment of a vehicle are: (1) an entrustment; (2) to an incompetent; (3) with knowledge that he or she is incompetent; (4) proximate cause; and (5) damages.

The test in Alabama, is whether the entrustor of the motor vehicle knew, or from the circumstances could or should have known of the driver’s incompetence. This may be proven by showing specific acts of incompetency that the person giving the keys knew or should have known about. Examples include where the driver has had multiple driving offenses for speeding or DUI that the person entrusting the vehicle knew about, or should have known about. An obvious situation might involve two friends who are out drinking together, and that friend asks to borrow your car. If you know or have reason to know that this person is intoxicated, and you provide him or her the keys to your vehicle, you will likely be subject to liability if that person causes a wreck. Just because you do not personally get behind the wheel of the vehicle does not protect you from liability.