Can I legally remove Dad's car?

6 answers | Last updated: Oct 18, 2014
Tawni asked...

Is it illegal for a family member to take (remove) a parent's car from their garage? My step-dad drives drunk and is 79 years old. He won't listen to anyone about not driving. I don't want an innocent person hurt because of him. I just wasn't sure if he could call the police and report the car stolen and have me arrested.

Expert Answers

Elizabeth Dugan, a Fellow of the Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, is the author of Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and Their Families.

Boy this is a sticky situation. I recommend talking this over informally with your local law enforcement officials. Unfortunately they have to deal with drunk driving every day and may have some advice on how to keep your step-dad safely off the road.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Disable the car, and hope he isn't on good terms with the local garage.

Daug-in-law answered...

I would think this would be theft.

And disabling the car, is vandalism.

However, in some jurisdictions a family member can report someone as medically unfit to drive and is some jurisdictions he would need a doctor's assessment and/or a driver's test to maintain his license. In all likelihood he would fail the driver's test even if he showed up sober.

Also, if he has gotten into the car and driven off drunk, you could call the police and hope they can find him and pull him over for a sobriety test.

Ben theredundat answered...

Blocks are the magic bullet here. ( Railroad tie sized wood blocks under the axles or the frame of the vehicle do wonders for impaired drivers..) A drunk fellow can drive for miles without hurting anyone when the wheels can't touch the ground. Having dealt with a few elderly cantankerous fellows, sometimes it is best to just preempt situations that they can do no damage to themselves or others. No vandalism either, you're just blocking the car so it won't roll in the garage..... OSHA may mandate it too... Hummmm come to think of it.... if they leave their ( non computer chipped, inexpensive ) car key laying around unattended, you might try " cleaning " it a little with a metal file.... a few adjustments on the key should make his driving much "safer" Keep the good keys somewhere safe where you can get them.

Kicercheri answered...

Isn't there something about being a danger to yourself or others? Call the local law inforcement and find out if this type of thing falls under that catagory.

Patp3005 answered...

We've been wrestling with this same problem. Mom's 81 with ALZ. We were considering disabling the car but she took care of it herself last night. She was out after dark, which she hasn't been in years. The police called me and asked if I could come get her. She said her car didn't have any lights (she can't remember how to turn them on) so she was driving in the ditch. She says she thought that would be safer since she didn't have any lights. She drove in the ditch until she hit a culvert, blowing a tire and the culvert blocking her passage any further. The car had to be towed, she wasn't hurt and neither was anyone or anything else. Our plan now is to tell her that the car needs a part that the repair shop is having a really hard time finding. Fortunately her license expires in January. She had intended to continue driving without a license, hopefully now that problem is solved. (Before this happened my brother said he was planning to disable the car and leave a note under the hood advising anyone who looked under there to not do any repairs and to call him. That would work with Mom because she wouldn't have a clue how to open the hood let alone what to do once it was open.) I know what a difficult struggle this one is. I'll be thinking of you.