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Non-owner behind the wheel
December 01, 2017

Non-owner behind the wheel

When you need to draw up auto power of attorney

According to the road traffic regulations, a driver should have a valid driving license or a temporary driver’s license, registration documents and a valid third-party liability certificate of insurance. You should have all these documents with you and show them to the traffic enforcer immediately upon request.

However, a person who is driving the car is not necessarily an owner. For example, he can be the head of the family who owns a car while other members of the family take turns driving it.

Until recently, a non-owner needed to have an auto power of attorney, even a handwritten one.

Today we don’t have that rule. To prove your power of attorney to drive a car, all you need is:

  • driving license;
  • car registration license;
  • third-party liability certificate.

A third-party liability certificate can be of two types: for the unlimited or limited range of people on the condition that the names of these drivers will be specified in the certificate.

Russians are allowed to drive their cars without the auto power of attorney only within the territory of Russian Federation. To go abroad on a car that does not belong to you, you need a notarized auto power of attorney. A handwritten auto power of attorney is not acceptable there. Thus, to travel abroad by car, you should be either an owner or have an appropriate notarized auto power of attorney. However, if you rent a car overseas, this rule shall not apply.

Car owner responsibility in case of a car accident

In case of a car accident, damage shall be compensated not by the owner (proprietor), but a person who was sitting behind the wheel at the moment of the accident. This person shall be legally responsible for the accident if found guilty. However, a car owner (proprietor) sitting next to the driver will never be prosecuted. When such situation occurs, it may be difficult to prove who was behind the wheel. However, an owner can provide any evidence in his favour.

Going on a trip together with a car proprietor

If you are going on a long trip, we recommend you not to borrow a car from your friends or relatives. You’d better join them on their trip. A car owner knows better than anyone how he should deal with his car. If he is going to take risks, he will be responsible for his property. Driving somebody’s car requires more responsibility. If you borrow a car from somebody, you won’t be able to relax due to constant worries about that car. We recommend you to rent a car instead.

Sometimes we want to save money and prefer using somebody’s car, believing that an owner of the car would bear all the costs. But, as you can see, this is not the case! Laws do not provide for an act committed by another person. If anything happens to the car, a person who was behind the wheel shall be legally responsible for it. However, it does not matter whether there is a proprietor sitting nearby. The latter should understand that a person who has no driving license or the appropriate category, as well as minors and disabled, are not allowed to drive the car.

However, those who are going to drive somebody’s car should take full responsibility for anything that may happen to it.

How to return a car to the owner

There are cases when a person who has borrowed a car from a legal owner doesn’t return it. Is there any legal way to get it back?

First of all, you should inform a “temporary” owner about his duty to return the car. Compose a written notice in any format and specify time and date of the return. Send this notice by post as a registered letter with the enclosure list. After that, a proprietor waits for a month and then he can report his car missing. In this case, a temporary owner can be accused of a car theft.

However, you can file a claim in court reclaiming your property to be returned. You should attach a notification that you have informed an illegal owner about your claim to return the car on a voluntary basis.    

In most cases, a registered mail will be enough to make a person return your car. Few people wish to be prosecuted for a car theft or pay huge fines. Thus, there have been just a few legal cases when one party returned a car to the legal owner.

We hope this article was helpful. Be attentive to the way you deal with the documents and do not forget to apply for the International Driving Permit in advance. Thanks for reading!

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