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If an owner of a vehicle loans a vehicle to another person they know is incompetent, reckless or unlicensed, they can be liable for their action. The key is that the owner must know this before loaning the vehicle. Also, the owner must have given permission to use the vehicle. Express permission is when the owner says, "Take my car." Permission may be implied from the actions of the owner, such as a failure to object to the driver's use of the vehicle. Either type can be given.
In Arizona, an owner may be held liable for negligently entrusting their vehicle to another. In order for someone to negligently entrust their vehicle to another, the owner of the car must be aware that the driver is incompetent to operate it. As such, a vehicle owner who gives permission to an obviously intoxicated person may be liable for the driver’s actions.
You cannot be criminally prosecuted for negligent entrustment in Arizona. You may, however, face civil prosecution from a victim involved in an accident, or a deceased victim’s family. Criminal prosecutors may attempt to charge an owner for reckless endangerment, if anything, in a similar situation.
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