Glen Burnie, MD asked in Car Accidents for Maryland

Q: If I’m caught driving without insurance out of state does that state’s laws apply or the state my car is registered?

My sister drove my car into Pennsylvania because of a family emergency (she doesn’t own a car) and ended up getting into an accident. My question is if Maryland’s laws apply or if Pennsylvania’s laws apply since the accident happened out of state.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Eric Todd Kirk
Eric Todd Kirk
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: The state law where the offense occured/ law was broken would apply to the criminal charge of driving without a license. The state-of-accident law would likely apply in a civil case, although there could be complicated choice of law principles involved in that determination.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: The law of the place where the accident and traffic/criminal violation occurred is what controls. Therefore, your sister's negligence and liability for the accident and any civil damages will be governed by PA law, as well as your liability for negligently entrusting your vehicle to her if you knew or had reason to know she was not competent to operate a vehicle. Whether an owner of a vehicle is vicariously liable for the negligence of a person they allow to drive their car is a matter of PA law in this instance, so your liability in addition to your sister's is an open question requiring advice from a PA lawyer on this issue. Under the law of agency generally, if she was operating your car for your benefit at the time, you could be held liable for her accident. If the family emergency was also your family emergency, and she was acting in part for your benefit, that could be a basis to hold you liable civilly as well as her for any damages that result from the accident. If she took your car without permission, or for only her benefit, then you would have a defense. As for any charge of driving without insurance, only the driver of the vehicle is typically cited for that offense, but again, what PA law says on this subject requires a PA lawyer's answer. Did she receive any citations? The citation states who is being charged, and can only be issued under PA law if the offense occurred in PA. For you or her to be charged in MD, she'd have to be pulled over in MD. Assuming PA has a law that imposes criminal liability on an owner of an uninsured car who allows someone to operate it on the public roadways, it would likley not apply to you because you allowed her to take your car in MD and not in PA, but if you knew she was going to drive into PA at the time you gave her permission to operate your car, then maybe a PA prosecutor would try to stretch the law to charge you in that circumstance, but that seems like a really remote possibility. They have the driver, your sister, to charge. Adding a MD resident who never stepped foot in PA in connection with the charge is a complicated proposition.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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