What Happens If You Get in an Accident With a Permit in California?

Young and inexperienced drivers commonly cause car accidents in California. New drivers do not have the hands-on experience to drive as safely or prudently as older drivers. They also tend to overestimate their driving capabilities, increasing the risk of mistakes such as multitasking behind the wheel or texting and driving. Inexperience and overconfidence is a dangerous combination that can lead to broken traffic laws, catastrophic car accidents, and serious injuries and deaths. If you or your child gets into a car accident with a learner’s permit in California, the consequences can be severe.

Was the Driver Obeying the Permit’s Provisions?

After an auto accident, the police may investigate to see if either driver was breaking a roadway rule and whether this is what caused the crash. A driver must obey certain provisions when driving with a learner’s permit in California. These restrictions are in place for the driver’s safety and that of others. If you or your child was violating a provision at the time of the accident, the other driver may be able to use this against you as proof of fault.

  • You can only drive with an adult in the vehicle who has a valid driver’s license and is at least 25 years old.
  • You cannot be on the road between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Driving is more dangerous at night due to poor visibility.

 

  • You can only carry passengers who are over the age of 20 unless a licensed driver over 25 is present.
  • You must drive with a learner’s permit for at least six months before you can take your driver’s test for a standard license.

If you were not at fault, the other party will not be able to hold you (or your parents, as a teen driver) civilly liable for damages. You could, however, face a traffic infraction if you were unlawfully driving without a valid license. If you were violating the provisional terms of your permit at the time of the car accident, you could face penalties even if you did not cause the crash. You may receive points on your license or have to pay a fine.

Does the Driver Have Insurance?

Since most drivers with learner’s permits are underage, it will be their parents’ responsibility to carry insurance. Under California law, parents will be vicariously liable for the actions of their children under the age of 18. The parent or guardian of a permitted teen driver will accept financial responsibility, therefore, for any at-fault accident that occurs while the teen is driving. All drivers in California must carry coverage of at least 15/30/5 in bodily injury and property damage liability insurance.

If a driver operating with a learner’s permit causes a car accident in California, his or her parent’s insurance should cover the damages. The teen driver should carry proof of insurance to show to accident victims and the police after an accident. If the other driver caused the crash, it will be his or her responsibility to pay for damages. This is how fault insurance laws work in California. Determining fault for an auto accident involving a young driver may take an attorney’s assistance.

Was the Driver Breaking the Law?

If you or your child were in violation of one of California’s laws and this is what caused the wreck, you may have to deal with a criminal case on top of civil liability. You or your child may face a misdemeanor or even a felony charge depending on the severity of the infraction and the damages suffered. If you struck someone, caused a serious injury and fled the scene, for example, you could face a felony hit-and-run charge.

The penalties for a traffic offense can range from simple fines to suspension of you or your teen’s driving privileges. Crimes such as hit-and-run or drunk driving, however, could result in probation or time spent in a juvenile facility. Work with a Sacramento personal injury lawyer for legal advice about your specific car accident case.