Saturday, November 29, 2008

Driver's License

On the post regarding Gary's concerns, Becky asks, "I haven't been following your blog for THAT long; could you explain why Gary can't get a driver's license as a foster kid?"

Well, basically it is because minors can't be sued. Anyone is the US (and perhaps elsewhere?) who has a driver's license has someone on record taking legal responsibility for them. Usually that person is a parent. Though I think most parents don't quite realize it, giving them permission means that you are the one who will be sued if they smash the car into someone's property.

Foster kids don't have anyone to sign for them.

Gary's dad still has parental rights and so could legally sign, but there is no reason to think he would.

Theoretically, a social worker can persuade a judge to sign for a kid. In that case the state is legally responsible and would have to settle any claims. As you can imagine that rarely happens. I understand that some states are trying to make it easier, creating a liability insurance program specifically for foster kids.

In some states I am told that foster parents may take legal responsibility for their foster kids, but that isn't an option here.

Most foster kids can't even take driver's education before they are 18, and given that a lot of kids exit foster care on their 18th birthday, they are exiting without one of the skills that is pretty essential in most parts of this country.

It is just the way it is.


  1. That's why. I knew that most kids in foster care couldn't get their driver's licenses but I never understood exactly why. Makes sense! It is too bad, though. It must be a real bummer for kids watching all their friends getting their license and they're not able to.

  2. I have received a private email saying that it has nothing to do with who can and can't be sued. I may be been mistaken about that.

    So...all I know for certain is that if you are not 18 someone who is a legal guardian has to sign a form which says on it that you are the parent or legal guardian and are taking legal responsibility for this driver.

    I can't do it because I am not the legal guardian. The state won't do it because they won't do it. Gary's father won't do it for whatever reasons he won't do it.


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