Q: My teenage son used my car in a street-race, and now it has been impounded. Can I get it back?

A: The law is a bit tricky here; the answer may depend on your knowledge of how your son was using your car, and whether or not you believed him to be a responsible driver. The ease with which you can get your vehicle back (after paying a hefty impound fee, of course) may also depend on the gravity of your son's offense. An impromptu street-race in which no one was hurt, and your son was simply charged with reckless driving, may enable you to recover your car sooner rather than later. However, if the reckless driving charge was incurred in the context of a more serious offense (say, a spectator at a prearranged road-race was injured by your son's car, or that of his opponent), the police may want to hold your vehicle as evidence.

The larger issue here is that in Virginia, as in all states, parents can be held liable for the behavior of their children, depending (as mentioned above) on their state of prior knowledge. If your son was convicted of street-racing before, and you still let him borrow your car, not only may you be unable to get your vehicle back, but you may be subject to criminal charges, as well. Likewise, if your son's racing caused damage to your vehicle, the vehicle of another person, or someone else's property, your insurance carrier may refuse to pay out a claim, leaving you to settle the resulting damages—and if personal injury is involved, those damages can be substantial. Questions? Call the experienced traffic and criminal defense attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC for a free consultation!