Is Joyriding a Crime in Pennsylvania?

Joyriding or driving a stolen car at fast speeds can feel risky yet exciting. Unfortunately, many of those who joyride do not fully understand the consequences of their actions. Although joyriding doesn’t carry the same weight as auto theft, it can still lead to serious penalties, including a criminal record, hefty fines, and jail time.

How serious is a joyriding offense?

In Pennsylvania, joyriding is the unauthorized use of another person’s vehicle. As long as the perpetrator does not own the vehicle, this law applies to the operation of automobiles, airplanes, motorcycles, motorboats, and any other motor-propelled vehicle.

In contrast to auto theft, joyriders do not intend to keep the vehicle or permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. It also rarely involves the use of physical force, unlike auto theft. Often, joyriding happens when a teenager “borrows” and drives their parent’s vehicle without permission. They don’t have to commit theft because they have access to the car and its keys.

However, teenagers are not the only perpetrators of joyriding. A valet or technician who has access to someone else’s car keys and vehicle could take the car out for a drive or use it for other purposes without the owner’s consent. Someone who is curious about a vehicle or wants to show off could also commit a crime.

Getting caught for joyriding or the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle can lead to a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a $ 5,000 fine.

Reasons behind joyriding

Joyriding offers a sense of freedom and excitement that can serve as a temporary escape from the monotony or difficulties of everyday life. For teenagers, this activity could be a form of rebellion against parental authority or an effort to fit in with their peers.

However, there are also instances where joyriding is done to commit other crimes.

Regardless of the motivation, joyriding is illegal and carries legal penalties. It can also encourage dangerous driving behaviors that can lead to accidents, injuries, and damages. The momentary thrill is not worth the harsh consequences.

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