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AGO 1953 No. 114 - August 14, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


Application of emancipated minor for motor vehicle operator's license need not be signed by parents, but must be signed by employer.

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                                                                 August 14, 1953

Honorable John Panesko
Prosecuting Attorney
Lewis County
Chehalis, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 114

Dear Sir:

            We have received your letter of August 4th, 1953, requesting the opinion of this office on the following question:  Is a totally emancipated eighteen-year-old boy entitled to a driver's license without the consent of his parents?

            It is our opinion that such a minor need not secure the signature of a parent upon his application, but must secure the signature of his employer.


            RCW 46.20.100 provides:

            "The director shall not consider the application of any minor under the age of twenty-one years for a vehicle operator's license unless the application is also signed by the father of the applicant, if the father is living andhas custody of the applicant, otherwise by the mother or guardianhaving the custody of such minor, or in the event a minor under the age of twenty-one has no father, mother, or guardian, then a vehicle operator's license shall not be issued to the minor unless his application is also signed by his employer."  (Italics supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Considering the underscored provisions of the statute, it seems that insofar as parents or guardians are concerned, they must sign a minor's application only if they have custody.  We think that provision permitting an employer to sign the application if the minor "has no father, mother, or guardian" must be read with the requirement of custody in mind.  Assuming that parents have emancipated a minor, they have relinquished their right to his custody.  There is no guardian.  The minor has parents, but no person has his custody.  Nonetheless, the statute plainly requires that some responsible person of age must sign his application, so that the director can have the judgment of an adult upon the ability of the minor to drive safely.  The law seeks to have the opinion of the person best able to make such a judgment; and in the case of a minor who is not in the custody of his parents or a guardian that person is stated to be his employer.  This is particularly applicable to the emancipated minor, who may live at a great distance from his parents.  An analogous situation is presented by the attached opinion of April 13, 1946, to the Director of Licenses, in which it is held that the commanding officer of a minor serviceman might sign the application as employer.

            It should be noted that the opinion of August 20, 1928, to the Director of Licenses, was rendered under a statute which has been superseded by the present law and no longer controls.

            We conclude that only the employer must sign the application of an emancipated minor for a motor vehicle operator's license.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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