My 15-year-old son figured in a vehicular accident when he was driving my car with my permission, to buy some groceries near our house. In addition to his claim for reparation for the damages on his vehicle, the owner of the other vehicle also threatened to file a case of child abuse against me for letting my son drive without a driver’s license. I understand his claim for damages for his vehicle, but I’m not sure if he is right in threatening to file a child abuse case against me even though I willingly allowed my son who was also willing to drive my car, albeit without a driver’s license. Is there a legal basis for this? Thank you for your advice.
Republic Act (RA) 7610, known as the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, is the law that provides for the deterrence and protection against child abuse in line with the policy of the State to protect children from all forms of abuse or neglect that are prejudicial to their development.
Basing onthe details of your narration, your act of allowing your minor son to drive without a driver’s license is tantamount to child abuse. This is because your act falls under the other forms of abuse enumerated in Section 10 (a), Article VI of RA 7610. According to this provision, the acts cited in Article 59 of Presidential Decree (PD) 603 that are prejudicial to a child’s development are included among those penalized under the child abuse law. According to this law:
“Art. 59. Crimes. – Criminal Liability shall attach to any parent who:
(11) Allows or requires the child to drive without a license or with a license which the parent knows to have been illegally procured. If the motor vehicle driven by the child belongs to the parent, it shall be presumed that he permitted or ordered the child to drive.
Xxx” Emphasis supplied. (Art. 59(11) PD 603)
As clearly stated above, the law considers the act of allowing a child without a driver’s license to drive as a form of child abuse since it endangers the safety of the child by unnecessarily exposing him/her to potential road and vehicular hazards. The law imposes a penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period that is equivalent to six (6) years and one (1) day to eight (8) years of imprisonment for those who will be proven guilty of this crime (Section 10 (a) Article VI, RA 7610). Thus, it is clear that the act of letting a minor drive a vehicle without a driver’s license is indeed a form of child abuse that is penalized by the law.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com