Kid law: What parents need to know
Vail, CO, Colorado
In the first part of this series, we defined what at kid is, at least at law.
For most purposes, a kid ” correctly, a “minor” ” is someone under the age of 18. For a few purposes ” such as drinking alcoholic beverages ” one is not an adult until the age of 21.
Minors are denied many of the rights and obligations of adulthood. These range from the ability to marry without parental or judicial consent to, in most instances, being spared the thunder of “adult” court if a minor goes astray.
In this column, the subject is locomotion: bikes, skates, skateboards, scooters, cars and traffic.
Bicycle riders ” both children and adults ” must abide by most of the same rules of the road as motorists. Some states mandate that only those under a certain age (often 12 or under) may ride on the sidewalk. Some states require those under 18 to wear a helmet while riding a bike. There are also laws specific to bicycle riding that don’t pertain to motorists. These laws vary from state to state. A sampling includes requirements for lighting and reflectors if a bike is ridden at night, prohibitions from wearing “in-ear” headsets and limitations as to how many people can ride on a single bike.
There are also laws in most states ” and specific laws in many counties, towns and municipalities ” pertaining to the operation of skateboards, skates and scooters.
These rules, laws, regulations and ordinances often restrict where one may ride and what equipment must be worn. Most, if not all states prohibit “skitching,” the dangerous and mind-numbingly insane practice of holding on to a moving motor vehicle when on a pair of skates, a skateboard, a scooter or a bike.
In most states, in order to operate a motorized scooter, the driver must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license or permit. Some states require helmets for scooter drivers and riders (even kick scooters) under the age of 18.
Cars are what give most parents nightmares ” 16-year-old drivers have three times the vehicle fatality rate of the average of all other drivers. Although not yet legally an adult, most states permit one to obtain a driver’s license and to operate a motor vehicle at the age of 16.
Increasingly, many states, like Colorado, have specific restrictions for new drivers which often limit underage drivers up to the age of 18. In Colorado, a new driver under the age of 18 cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. until the driver has had a valid driver’s license for at least one year. There are exceptions if the young driver is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and for such things as a medical emergency. Similarly, a Colorado driver under 18 may not carry any passengers under the age of 21, siblings excepted, until the driver has had his or her license for at least 6 months. Only one passenger may ride in the front seat and everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt.
All drivers must carry minimal liability insurance coverages. Evidence of insurance must be carried in the vehicle at all times. A driver under 18 may not be employed as a driver. In many states, the parents or legal guardians of an underage driver may be held liable if he, she or they negligently entrusted their vehicle to the child.
As noted in the last column, any alcohol offense, when coupled with the operation of a motor vehicle, most often spells serious trouble, particularly if property is damaged or, worse, if someone is injured or killed. When the offense involves alcohol or drugs, in almost all circumstances the policy is one of zero tolerance.
In part three of this series, we will visit the issues of child abuse and neglect, piercing and tattooing, curfew, and drug use and possession.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. He is a member of the Colorado State Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee and is a former adjunct professor of law. Robbins lectures for Continuing Legal Education for attorneys in the areas of real estate, business law and legal ethics. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) as host of “Community Focus.” He can be reached at 926-4461 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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