A Portsmouth, N.H. mother has been charged with child endangerment after allowing her 15-year-old take her SUV on a joy ride. Laurie Cottonham, 42, violated a state law that requires that someone 15 and a half years old can drive a car with a parent or someone else over the age of 25 present. The accident occurred on a curve where the limit is 15 mph. He was allegedly going 50 mph.
Criminal law and torts deal with such parental recklessness in different ways. Criminal law rarely uses vicarious liability systems where torts does. Torts will allow a third party to bring a negligence action in such cases. Moreover, while children are treated to a lower standard of responsibility, they are held to an adult standard of reasonableness when engaging in an adult activity.