• What is joyriding?

    Date: 09.05.07 | by Judge Tom.

    Joyriding is defined as borrowing someone′s car, bicycle, boat, or motorcycle without permission, with the intention of just using it for a while. Although joyriding isn′t considered theft, it′s still illegal because the owner′s permission wasn′t given.

    It doesn′t make any difference how long you keep the vehicle before returning it, or if you were only a passenger. If you know that the vehicle has been taken without the owner′s consent, and you ride around in it, you′re still held responsible. You don′t have to be the one who took it or drove it to be considered accountable.

    Photo by Didier Lahousse

    Any damage to the vehicle may also become all or part of your responsibility. The exact circumstances surrounding the incident will be considered in determining the consequences.

    In most jurisdictions, joyriding is a misdemeanor. Penalties for first-time offenders include diversion (counseling and community service hours) or a short probation period (possibly six months). If you′re caught again, additional probation or intensive probation is possible, as well as house arrest or detention. If you have a driver′s license or permit, it may be taken away.

    Note: In April, 2008 a 7-year-old boy in Florida took his grandmother’s keys and drove off in her SUV. He backed out of the driveway and took off, hitting mailboxes, signposts and parked cars. His eight-minute joyride came to a stop when one of the wheels fell off. He may not be prosecuted because of his age but he was arrested so he could get some help.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Edith Mister
      Mon, 19 Mar 2012 at 04:31

      What is the maxium penalty for joyriding in Mississippi
      Dear Edith: The maximum penalty depends on the facts of the case. A person can be sent to jail for joyriding based on their age, criminal history, whether they were already on probation or parole when it was done, etc. It’s also up to the assigned judge, probation officer’s recommendation, attitude of the defendant and other factors. Take a look at this site for information:
      http://www.ehow.com/about_5074604_joyriding.html
      Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Zach
      Tue, 25 Sep 2012 at 02:37

      If a person gets into a friend’s vehicle under the impression that the vehicle belongs to their friend, but later learns the vehicle was stolen for purposes of joyriding, how do they look in terms of defense?
      Dear Zach: You may have a defense that the prosecutor and/or the court will accept. When you go to court, explain everything that happened to your lawyer if you have one or the court appoints one to represent you. Good luck.

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