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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 116707
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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Is there any defense against allowing my 9 year-old son to

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Is there any defense against allowing my 9 year-old son to steer an inoperable car while I towed it on a county highway? I was cited for wrongful entrustment of a motor vehicle, but the car was inoperable (the drive shaft broke free of the transmission) and seemed more safe than allowing my son to follow me on his bike on a country road, for example.

My car is essentially my home's power generator when electric service is interrupted, and a storm was threatening the region in which I live. A rare, straight-line wind storm, called a "derecho", was due within hours before retrieving my inoperable car, and both my wife and brother were out of town, unable to help me tow my car home. Both vehicles were licensed and insured by me.

Do I have any choice but to plead "no contest" during my mandatory court appearance for the citation?
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

I am sorry to hear this has happened, but in OH the courts consider this negligent and reckless I am sorry to say and if you say it seemed safer than him following you on his bike the court will say you should have put him in the car with you not in the car you were towing, so they will not buy that as an excuse for not guilty, only perhaps to lower the fine. You can present this to the prosecutor when negotiating your no contest plea and ask for at least a reduction in the fine and try to negotiate that with the prosecutor, but it does not absolve you of guilt on this type of case I am afraid.

However, you have some mitigation in that you had no adult available to steer, but this would only generally serve to lessen the fine not really change the fact that a 9 year old should not be behind the wheel of a car on a highway being towed. The court is going to say that you should have called a tow truck or left the car there until you could find some adult to assist. Furthermore, I have seen cases like this in OH where they charged the person with child neglect/endangerment on top of the citation as this is how serious the courts in OH take this matter.

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Law Educator, Esq. and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi PaulMJD,

Thank you for your quick and clear response. I didn't see much leeway in Ohio ordinances to dispute the citation.


Just for clarification, would the prosecution have to show that I *intended* to to act in a reckless manner? Also, since I was (or will be issued a citation, as I haven't been given the written citation, yet), can I be charged for an offense of child neglect or endangerment after appearing in court for a different offense?


Thank you.

Thank you for your response.

There is no intent in this type of offense, it can be intentional or negligently acted in a reckless manner.

If you have not yet been charged or ticketed, you might potentially be charged with neglect even after appearing in traffic court because it is a separate charge in a separate court. The charge of neglect is up to the sole discretion of the DA and it all depends on the DA that gets assigned to your case if they want to charge you or not with the neglect/endangerment.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you PaulMJD,
I appreciate your time and your clarity. I live in an agricultural area, and could not count the many times that I have seen kids driving tractors, but I imagine that those are prosecutorial invitations, as well.
Thanks and regards.

You are right they do drive tractors and farm equipment, but steering a disabled car on a roadway without a license is a bit different I am afraid, since that car could not get out of the way under its own power in case another vehicle was coming at it and it was on a road.