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Joyriding is the unlawful taking of a vehicle without the consent of the owner, without intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. Joyriding is a criminal wrong. Joyriding is also referred to in state criminal codes as Unlawful Driving Away of an Automobile (UDAA) and Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.

Some examples of “joyriding” statutes include:

  • Michigan Penal Code §750.414 which states “[a]ny person who takes or uses without authority any motor vehicle without intent to steal the same, or who is a party to such unauthorized taking or using, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $1,500.00.”
  • Tennessee Code §39-14-106 which states “[a] person commits a Class A misdemeanor who takes another's automobile, airplane, motorcycle, bicycle, boat or other vehicle without the consent of the owner and the person does not have the intent to deprive the owner thereof.”
  • New York Penal Law §165.05 which states “A person is guilty of unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree when: Knowing that he does not have the consent of the owner, he takes, operates, exercises control over, rides in or otherwise uses a vehicle.”
  • Model Penal Code §223.9 which states “A person commits a misdemeanor if he operates another's automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor-propelled vehicle without consent of the owner. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this Section that the actor reasonably believed that the owner would have consented to the operation had he known of it.”

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]