Oklahoma City Attorney BlogHow is Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle Defined in Oklahoma City?

unauthorized use of a vehicle in Oklahoma CityUnauthorized use of a vehicle in Oklahoma City can look like joyriding or theft.

A car unlocked on a Saturday night. Keys in the ignition. You take the car without permission, maybe not intending to keep it, just to take it out for a bit — or maybe you do intend to keep it.

Your intent is an important part of the crime. Here is what you might want to know about unauthorized use of a vehicle and how it is handled in Oklahoma.

Unauthorized Use of Vehicle Defined

Unauthorized use of a vehicle is legally defined as the taking, using, or driving of a vehicle with intent to deprive the owner, without the consent of the owner and without entitlement to possession. This is a felony in Oklahoma. Okla. Stat. tit. 47 § 4-102

Like all crimes in Oklahoma, this one has certain elements, all of which must be proven by the prosecution:

  • Taking, using, or driving
  • a vehicle
  • by the defendant
  • without the consent of the owner
  • with the intent to deprive the owner, temporarily or otherwise, of the vehicle or its possession.

OUJI-CR 5-116

If any of these elements remains unproven, there is no conviction.

If you drive the vehicle without consent and with the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle or its possession, that is sufficient intent to be found guilty of this crime if the other elements are met.

Note that the intent to deprive can be temporary or permanent. You can intend to keep the car for a long time or a short time. An intention to return the vehicle later is not part of this statute.

Joyriding Contrasted

Joyriding is a very different crime in some ways. Joyriding is legally defined as driving or attempting to drive another person’s car without consent. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1787

While both involve taking a person’s car without permission, unauthorized use of a vehicle involves an intent to deprive the owner of possession. Joyriding does not. Joyriding is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma; this crime punishable by a fine between $100 and 500, up to a year in county jail, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1788


If you are convicted of unauthorized use of a vehicle, the penalty is up to two years in prison.

Questions of permission and intent are important in these cases and should be explored with your attorney. If you are facing charges, make sure to hire an Oklahoma City defense attorney today. Help is a phone call away.

Free Consultation: Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Attorney

Our lawyer is well positioned to advise you accordingly, as he has the necessary training and experience. He has the wit and tenacity to match the skill of the Oklahoma City prosecutors.

For a free consultation with an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney, call Wirth Law Office – Oklahoma City at 405-888-5400.

You can also submit an email question from the top right corner of this page. We will respond to all questions as soon as possible.

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