California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

723. Liability of Cosigner of Minor’s Application for Driver’s License

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was harmed by [name of minor]’s negligence in operating the vehicle and that [name of defendant] is responsible for the harm because [name of defendant] signed [name of minor]’s application for a driver’s license. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of minor] was negligent in operating the vehicle;

2. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed;

3. That [name of minor]’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the harm;

4. That [name of defendant] signed [name of minor]’s application for a driver’s license; and

5. That at the time of the collision [name of minor]’s driver’s license had not been canceled or revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • Vehicle Code section 17707 provides, in part: “Any civil liability of a minor arising out of his driving a motor vehicle upon a highway during his minority is hereby imposed upon the person who signed and verified the application of the minor for a license and the person shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages proximately resulting from the negligent or wrongful act or omission of the minor in driving a motor vehicle, except that an employer signing the application shall be subject to the provisions of this section only if an unrestricted driver’s license has been issued to the minor pursuant to the employer’s written authorization.”
  • Vehicle Code section 17710 provides: “The person signing a minor’s application for a license is not liable under this chapter for a negligent or wrongful act or omission of the minor committed when the minor is acting as the agent or servant of any person.”
  • Vehicle Code section 17711 provides: “Any person who has signed and verified the application of a minor for a driver’s license or any employer who has authorized the issuance of a license to a minor and who desires to be relieved from the joint and several liability imposed by reason of having signed and verified such application, may file a verified application with the department requesting that the license of the minor be canceled. The department shall cancel the license, except as provided in subdivision (e) of Section 17712. Thereafter, the person shall be relieved from the liability imposed under this chapter by reason of having signed and verified the original application on account of any subsequent willful misconduct or negligent operation of a motor vehicle by the minor.”
  • “Cancellation accomplishes voluntarily what revocation [of minor’s driver’s license] accomplishes involuntarily. If termination is accomplished by the latter method, resort to the former becomes superfluous. Once revocation occurs, the driving privilege is at an end. Thereafter there is no reason and no necessity for a voluntary application to terminate that which has already been terminated involuntarily. Both means are equally effective to terminate the driving privilege and to terminate the signer’s liability.” (Hamilton v. Dick (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 123, 125 [61 Cal.Rptr. 894].)
  • “[T]he negligence of the minor son of the [parents] is imputed to them . . . by virtue of their having signed his application for an operator’s license, which was not revoked or cancelled at the time of the accident in question, notwithstanding the fact that the license was then temporarily suspended” and even though the parents specifically forbade the minor from operating the vehicle. (Sleeper v. Woodmansee (1936) 11 Cal.App.2d 595, 598 [54 P.2d 519].)
  • “It seems quite evident that, in adopting [the predecessors to sections 17150 and 17707] of the Vehicle Code, the legislature intended to create a limited liability for imputed negligence against both the owner of an automobile and the signer of a driver’s license. . . . We must assume the legislature intended to fix a limited liability . . . for imputed negligence against the owner of an automobile and the signer of a driver’s license or either of them and that it did not intend to double that limited liability when the same individual was both the owner of the machine and the signer of the license.” (Rogers v. Foppiano (1937) 23 Cal.App.2d 87, 92–93 [72 P.2d 239].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 1256–1259

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) Automobiles, §§ 4.41, 4.43

2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, § 20.30[2] (Matthew Bender)

8 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 82, Automobiles: Causes of Action, § 82.16, Ch. 83, Automobiles: Bringing the Action, § 83.134 (Matthew Bender)

2 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 25:52