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Michael_D_NapolitanoIn the early morning of July 21, 2012, a seventeen year old driving his car with two passengers in Suffolk County lost control of his vehicle, leaving the roadway and striking a fence and trees. The two passengers in the vehicle were ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was transported to the hospital and treated for his injuries. He was later charged with driving while intoxicated.

Initially, our legal system must deal swiftly and harshly with the operators of vehicles that choose to drive while intoxicated and forever alter the lives of so many. Aggressive intervention and education of not only our youth, but all operators who use our roadways must be our priority. Our young drivers face the daunting task of trying to become experienced in the operation of a motor vehicle, and must be alerted to the pitfalls that come with the responsibilities of such freedom. Parents must become more involved in educating and advising their children as to the real dangers that exist in the operation of a motor vehicle.

When parents become more aggressively involved in educating our young drivers it serves a dual purpose. First, it provides needed guidance for inexperienced drivers who are beginning to undertake a difficult and potentially dangerous path towards adulthood. Secondly, it helps the parents to impart responsibility to their children by advising them that as parents, they are liable when their children drive a car registered in the parent’s name. As a measure of protection, we advise all clients who are parents of new drivers to register their children’s car under the child’s name. In this way, the New York State law that imposes liability on drivers and owners does not extend to create liability for the parents.