Updated on April 19th, 2023

Liability of Cosigner of Minor’s Application for Driver’s License Laws

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] 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.


  • Cal. Veh. Code §§ 17707, 17708 and 17709 were designed to create a limited vicarious liability for a minor’s negligence. Kostecky v. Henry, 113 Cal. App. 3d 362.
  • Liability of Cosigner of Minor’s Driver’s License Application. Vehicle Code section 17707.

  • No Liability if Minor is Agent of Another. Vehicle Code section 17710.

  • Application for Relief From Liability. Vehicle Code section 17711.

  • Cal. Veh. Code § 17701 requires parental signature before a driver’s license is issued to a minor. Cal. Veh. Code § 17707 imposes upon the signer liability for damages resulting from the minor’s wrongful driving. Cal. Veh. Code § 17711 permits the signer to be relieved from liability after applying for cancellation of the minor’s license and after the Department of Motor Vehicles has performed the cancellation.  Hamilton v. Dick, 254 Cal. App. 2d 123.
  • Cal. Veh. Code § 17707 provides that 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 negligence or willful misconduct of the minor in driving a motor vehicle.  Hamilton v. Dick, 254 Cal. App. 2d 123. 

  • “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].)

  • In a personal injury action involving an automobile collision, the judgment against the father of an unlicensed minor driver of one of the automobiles who at the time of the accident was driving under a learner’s permit and subject to his accompanying father’s supervision was not subject to the $ 15,000 limitation on liability provided for under Veh. Code, § 17709 with respect to the liability for a minor’s negligence of one signing and verifying the minor’s application for a driver’s license (Veh. Code, § 17707) and with respect to the liability of a parent for his child’s negligence in operating a motor vehicle with the parent’s permission (Veh. Code, § 17708), where special findings by the jury disclosed that the father’s liability was based on his negligent supervision of the unlicensed driver (Veh. Code, § 12509). While the father’s vicarious liability was limited by Veh. Code, § 17709, that section was not a limitation on liability for his own negligence. Kostecky v. Henry, 113 Cal. App. 3d 362

  • The ceiling on liability involving automobile accidents provided for by Veh. Code, § 17709, is only for the vicarious liability of one who signs or verifies a minor’s application for a driver’s license (Veh. Code, § 17707) or the parent or guardian of a minor who drives an automobile with the expressed or implied permission of the parent or guardian (Veh. Code, § 17708). Veh. Code, § 17709, is not a limitation on the liability of a licensed driver for his or her negligent supervision of an operator with a learner’s permit. Veh. Code, §§ 17707, 17708, and 17709, were designed to create a limited vicarious liability for the minor’s negligence. Veh. Code, § 17709, by its terms specifically provides that the limitation of liability is “for a minor’s negligent or wrongful act or omission.” Kostecky v. Henry, 113 Cal. App. 3d 362

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