Getting a license and being able to drive is one of the major milestones of any teenager’s life. Unfortunately, for Michael Ware’s daughter, this right of passage turned to tragedy on August 30th, 2014. The unlicensed 15-year old teen was driving her father’s Chevrolet Suburban when she picked up some friends for breakfast. She lost control of the vehicle and the crash killed Ryan Lesher, Shamus Digney, and Cullen Keffer—all 15 years of age.
In the United States, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. Here are some facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about teen drivers:
- Approximately seven teens between the ages of 16 to 19, die every day due to motor vehicle injuries.
- Teens between the ages of 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal car accident.
- New teen drivers have a particularly high crash risk during the first few months of having their license.
Michael Ware’s daughter did not have a license at the time of the accident and was charged with vehicular homicide in juvenile court. Michael Ware, 54, was also charged and faces prison time.
You may be wondering, why was he charged if his daughter was the one behind the wheel? During the initial investigation, Ware told authorities that his daughter used his vehicle without his knowledge. However, with further investigation, it was discovered that Ware voluntarily gave his daughter the keys to the SUV. Apparently, Ware had allowed his daughter, on several prior occasions, to drive his vehicle; this includes a drive from New York to their vacation home in Pennsylvania.
The judge stated that Michael Ware’s behavior was “reckless, stupid, and selfish” when he allowed his daughter to drive the SUV without a license. In the United States, parents may be held responsible and liable for crimes committed by their children. Although parental liability is not automatic, liability is common for automobile accidents if the parent was acting negligently.
Unfortunately in this case, being the “cool dad” meant Michael Ware could face up to 16 years in prison, while his daughter is placed on indefinite probation, pays restitution, writes a 2,000-word essay, and performs 300 hours of community service.
Authored by Jessica Tran, LegalMatch Legal Writer