When teenagers first get their license, they are on top of the world. Suddenly they have freedom that they never had before. For many teenagers, the newness eventually wears off and they start to treat driving seriously. But some teenagers can act recklessly when driving, and get themselves into trouble. Here, I discuss some common driving issues that new drivers face.
Some of the most common cases that come into the office related to juveniles have to do with motor vehicle violations.
A few common issues that I see include driving without a license, speeding, and reckless driving. Luckily, at my office, we have a team of lawyers who work with motor vehicle violations. We collaborate to determine the best course of action for your child.
Another common offense for a juvenile is driving with a passenger when they are legally unable to. As you probably know, teenagers are not allowed to drive with friends in the car for a period of one year after being licensed.
If a police officer sees a young looking driver with a passenger in the car, they can stop them on these grounds because they can check to see if the child is violating this one year period.
Violating the passenger law in itself is problematic, but these stops usually lead to bigger problems. After checking out the passenger violation, the police officer might say that they smell marijuana or alcohol and ask to search the vehicle. If the police officer finds drugs in the vehicle, then the child is charged with a motor vehicle violation and a drug crime.
In this situation, what are you supposed to do if your child was a passenger in the car where drugs were found? Will your child be charged with drug possession?
There are two types of possession that your child can face – physical and constructive possession. Physical possession refers to where the drugs were found. If they were found on your child’s person, then your child will likely be charged with possession. If they were found on a different person in someone else’s car, your child probably won’t face physical possession charges.
But constructive possession is a little more difficult. In order to charge someone with constructive possession, the police have to exercise some kind of knowledge that the drugs were there and exercised dominion, custody, or control over them.
Your child doesn’t need to physically possess the drugs to be charged with constructive possession. This gets charged at the officer’s discretion. If the officer believed that one occupant definitely had the drugs and no one else did, they can choose to charge that one person or the officer can say, “It’s not clear to me, I’m charging everyone,” and let the court figure it out.
If your child was charged with drug possession in the car, I would consider where the drugs were found, where the occupants were seated, if anyone admits that the drugs belong to them, and if more than one kid in the car claims that the drugs belong to a particular person.
We Can Help
Our law firm is uniquely capable of helping your child with a driving issue. Our combination of juvenile defense lawyers and motor vehicle lawyers can look at your child’s case from all angles.