A teenager learned to drive on YouTube and illegally used his father’s name to rent cars

SINGAPORE: A 17-year-old boy learned to drive on YouTube and illegally used his father’s name to rent cars on a car-sharing service.

The teenager, who is now 19, pleaded guilty on Monday (January 17) to charges of cheating by impersonation and driving by a minor. Two other charges will be considered for sentencing.

He cannot be named as he was under 18 at the time of the offenses and is protected by the Children and Young Persons Act.

The court heard the teenager applied for a Tribecar account in his father’s name around September 24, 2020. He submitted his father’s contact details and uploaded photos of his NRIC and driver’s license.

The request was granted and the teenager was given access to a Tribecar account in the name of his father, a 56-year-old man.

Between September 24, 2020 and October 7, 2020, the teenager rented cars using his father’s account eight times and paid for the rentals himself. He usually drove the cars early in the morning – between 12:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.

On the morning of October 7, 2020, he was carrying two passengers in his car when he was stopped at a police roadblock along the Central Highway and applied for his permit.

The two passengers were unaware that he was only 17 and did not have a valid license. The legal age to apply for a driving license in Singapore is 18.

The teenager was arrested on suspicion of cheating and traffic offenses.

He admitted driving the rented vehicles on eight occasions, despite being underage. He added that he learned his driving skills from YouTube.

The judge requested a probation fitness report for the teenager and adjourned sentencing until March.

The penalties for cheating by impersonation are a maximum of five years in prison, a fine, or both.

For underage drivers, first-time offenders can be jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$1,000, or both.

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