Jessica, a 14-year-old high school student, wanted to go to the mall with her friends after school. Neither she nor her friends, being the same age as her, had a license to drive to the mall and the mall was too far to walk to. At the same time, some of her friends did not have money to spend for bus fare. Jessica then remembered that her parents have gone out of town for a couple of days and that her older sister would have a long day at school in university and thus would not be at home

With that in mind, there was a car parked in Jessica’s garage without anyone using it. A thought came to her… she could always use her parents’ car and put more gas in to compensate to what she would be using that day before returning it home. In this case, no one in her family would ever find out that the car has been driven at all. At the same time, she thought that her allowance money being spent on gas would take her to more places in comparison to spending on different trips for bus fare. “A good idea,” Jessica thought.
After school, Jessica and her friends decided to walk to her house, which was only a kilometer away from school. Jessica did not call her parents and her sister for permission since the likelihood of being able to drive the car without a license was zero. Jessica then walked into her parents’ room and grabbed the car key. She turned on the engine, opened the garage door, and reversed. With a full passenger car, Jessica was excited that she was able to drive her friends to the mall, especially those that did not have any money for bus fare. Also, it was quite thrilling for her since she had never driven a car before, though she was very familiar with go-karting and race car video games. What could go wrong anyways? She watched how her parents drove all the time whenever she was sitting in the front seat.
What is Joyriding?
Joyriding is a criminal offense that is punishable in court. It is a slang term given to an offence in the Criminal Code of Canada. This is an offence resembling theft which is described as taking a motor vehicle and operating it without the owner’s consent.
The Criminal CodeOffence:
Section 335 of the Criminal Code, an Offence Resembling Theft says: “Everyone who, without the consent of the owner, takes a motor vehicle or vessel with intent to drive, use, navigate or operate it or cause it to be driven, used, navigated or operated is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.”
Jessica’s friends can also be charged under this section for being aware of the situation: …[O]r is an occupant of a motor vehicle or vessel knowing that it was taken without the consent of the owner, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Youth Criminal Justice Act
Because Jessica and her friends are only 14, if charged, they will be charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  A charge under the Act says that young people between the ages of 12 and 18 will be made to appear in Youth Justice Court. If Jessica or her friends are convicted, the given sentence will be decided by the penalties set out in the Youth Criminal Justice Act
Ontario Laws:
Jessica is also violating provincial laws by driving without a license. According to Ontario Highway Traffic Act, 37.(1) No person under the age of sixteen years shall drive or operate a motor vehicle, street car, road-building machine, self-propelled implement of husbandry or farm tractor on a highway.
The scenario for this post was written by Karen Jacobe, a JFCY volunteer on the PLE Team.  The legal info was written by Lauren Grossman, a first-year law student at U of T who is volunteering at JFCY through her law school’s Pro Bono Students Canada program. All info was reviewed by a JFCY staff lawyer