What the law says

Teens and wheels: Your responsibilities as a parent (part 2 of 3)

Teens and wheels: Your responsibilities as a parent (part 2 of 3)
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Québec is not Canada's only province to consider parents responsible for their kids’ behaviour. The rest of the country operates much the same way; all the provinces state that parents can be held responsible for their kids’ actions, as well as for the consequences.

The Éducaloi website warns that "if a minor commits a fault or acts in a way that causes injury to another person, an animal or to the property of another, the law assumes that the parents are at fault. The law presumes that the damage would never have happened if the child had been well supervised or educated properly."

Drive and alcohol

Much in the same way, article 1459 of the Québec Civil code states that "a person having parental authority is liable to reparation for injury caused to another by the act or fault of the minor under his authority, unless he proves that he himself did not commit any fault with regard to the custody, supervision or education of the minor."

In other words, if your kid harms, injures or – worst – kills someone in an accident caused by alcohol, speed or aggressive behaviour, you could be held responsible. The victim could sue both of you. It would then be up to yourself to prove you were not at fault and that your child was educated the right way.

Also, don't forget that if you lost custody of your child in a divorce, you are still liable for him or her.

But why let it drift to such extremes when you can avoid dangers altogether?

For one, you could offer to taxi everyone, picking up and dropping off your kid and his friends to the prom. Or, just like back in the days, you could rent a limousine service. If that alternative sounds too expensive, maybe coupons such as CoolTaxi are the way to go for you.

Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reminds people of the possibility of being held responsible for giving alcohol to a minor, or serving alcohol to an event attended by minors.

A report tells the story of a defendant, who gave his younger friend a bottle of rum, and was later held responsible, together with several other defendants, for the sum of 8.5 million dollars – after said friend crashed his car at a red light. The minor suffered heavy burns in the accident he caused.

So think again if you're about to let your teenager party at home to save him the trouble of running around; you could put yourself at risk if it ever comes up that you served alcohol to minors.

By Josée Paquet,

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