Can my undocumented friend drive my car? Can I drive his? How do we stay safe?
February 10, 2012 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Can my undocumented friend drive my car? Can I drive his car? Will my insurance cover it and am I putting myself or him (or other drivers) at any risk?

My friend is undocumented. I am a legal citizen of the US. We like to hang out, and I am wondering whether he can drive at all or whether it is on me to do the driving. I would like to avoid any legal trouble for myself and him, as well as financial trouble should something happen to us or the car.

- My friend has his own car and a driver's license (I assume it's fake but haven't asked)
- My friend doesn't have car insurance
- I have a car and car insurance

Possible scenarios
- I drive his car. We get into an accident or get pulled over. Will my insurance cover this? Will I get into trouble because his car wasn't insured? Is there any risk to him?
- He drives my car. We get into an accident or get pulled over. Will my insurance cover this even though he was driving (I think the answer is yes and can actually check this with my insurance). More important question: Will he be at risk in this case? Am I liable for anything if they learn that I let a driver with a falsified license drive my car?
- I drive my car and he rides. This seems like the safest option to me!

I am going to check with an immigration lawyer or an anonymous service to see what the real rules are, but wanted to check in case someone has experience with this. I trust my friend to drive; he is a good driver.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (9 answers total)
It might help to know what US state you're in.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:52 AM on February 10, 2012

Depending on your state, his driver's license is not necessarily fake.
posted by muddgirl at 7:04 AM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

If he is driving your car, it's about your insurance. Typically the way insurance works is that people who don't live with you and drive your car are covered. People who live with you have to be added to your plan and paid for. The only way you will really know what the answers to this question are though, is if you call your insurance company and ask them what your coverage is.

I can't imagine that you would be on the hook if someone who has a fake drivers license is driving your car -- how could anyone prove that you knew that? You may be liable for any damage that person causes to other people's property/bodies. Again, asking your insurance company these questions is probably the best way to go (although leave out the fake license part--just ask them what coverage is for friends and what your liability would be if something happened).
posted by Kimberly at 7:10 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

You've got a lot of what ifs here. Narrow it down: Don't drive or ride in a car with no insurance, period. Too much risk. Find out if the license is real, or not, and let him drive your car only if it's real. No risk that way.
posted by beagle at 7:25 AM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

The thing is, if he gets pulled over with your car, and he gets in any kind of trouble (ranging from just a ticket to deportation) your car will be impounded. And that is a gigantic pain in the ass and very costly to deal with.

(I'm a citizen, got pulled over for a moving violation, cop noticed my license had expired -- I swear I didn't know! -- my car was impounded on the spot. Dammit. Cost me several hundred dollars just to get the car out of impound, never mind the hassle with the actual ticket.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:29 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

From my friend the auto insurance fraud investigator:

A) If the friend is undocumented he probably doesn't have a valid driver's license. Most states put an end to undocumented people applying for licenses about 10 years ago, so that means that even if he had a valid license at that time, he probably doesn't anymore.

B) He should not let his friend drive his car, and he should not ride in the friend's car while the friend is driving. Insurance will not cover the friend because he is knowingly committing a crime by driving without a license, which is a policy exclusion.

C) If he wants to drive his friend around in his own properly insured car, his insurance will cover the friend in the event of a loss, even if the friend is undocumented, providing they reside in a state which does not speficially bar undocumented people from making claims. Most states do not have statutes that bar undocumented aliens from making claims under personal auto policies.
posted by crankylex at 7:42 AM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

This article says that in 2010, Washington, New Mexico, and Utah allowed undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. If you live elsewhere, his license may not be valid.

As for insurance, I suggest calling your insurance agent and telling them you have a friend without insurance. Ask if you are covered while driving your friend's car, and if your friend is covered while driving your car. Your insurance agent will be able to tell you the answer, which could vary with your policy. Be sure to tell your agent about the driver's license issue as well.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:46 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

If his license is fake, he should be driving as little as possible, not just because of the insurance issue (although it is possible for an unlicensed driver to get auto liability insurance in some states!), but because he's a lot more likely to be "found out" when he finally gets pulled over and doesn't have one.

If he does have a license, your insurance should cover him driving your car so long as you meet whatever restrictions are in your policy. Some companies don't cover unlisted drivers if the car is regularly made available for their use, for example.

I'm presuming you're not in a no-fault state, of course.
posted by wierdo at 5:49 PM on February 10, 2012

From the OP:
This is in Minnesota
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:48 AM on February 11, 2012

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