Carolyn Hax: A scofflaw lawyer for a fiance

Carolyn Hax
Columnist December 13, 2011

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I’ve just learned that my fiance, a 28-year-old up-and-coming associate at a major law firm, has been driving on a suspended license, which means, of course, that he also has no insurance. If he’s stopped or is involved in an accident, he could be arrested or jailed! I think it could also get him fired.

He says this is “no big deal”; all his violations were speeding tickets (no DUIs or other more serious offenses) and this is a “rite of passage” for many men his age and younger. I am so horrified that I am thinking of ending the engagement. (Fortunately, the wedding is still over a year away.)

While I don’t plan to report him to the authorities, I also won’t let him drive my car, nor will I be a passenger in his when he is driving. Am I “seriously overreacting,” as he claims? I was completely stunned to learn this.


Anonymous

I think you’re responding appropriately. His casual disregard for the law, as well as his responsibility to other drivers, has me wondering what else he thinks he’s too important/special to care about. If I were to pull together a list of things to watch for in people, it would include this entry: Trust humility; don’t trust casual arrogance.

Re: Suspended license:

As a now-40-year-old man, I can say this was never a rite of passage for me or anybody I know. From his statements, I would think he’s not an “up-and-coming associate” but a “soon-to-be-indicted associate.”

Anonymous

Thanks. More coming.

Re: Suspended license:

Take this VERY seriously. If he drives your car and hurts someone, you are liable. If he’s caught he could be disbarred. Yes, then he’d lose his job. Do you want to be with someone who has this little regard for others and the law? Run!

Anonymous 2

And the borrowed car can be impounded. A lesser consequence, but still a kick in the teeth.

Re: License:

You’re right — it’s a big deal and a red flag. But I’m a lawyer and I’ve known a lot of lawyers who think just like this guy, so I suspect he might be getting the green light from his peer group. She might want to look more closely at who he’s hanging out with. But yeah, he’s crazy dumb for doing that.

Anonymous 3

So reassuring! At least they all know where to find a lawyer.

Carolyn:

No offense, really, but some people on your chat seem a little preachy these days. I get that people shouldn’t drive with a suspended license, etc., but in the end people make mistakes and go through bad times, and most of a person’s character comes out in those rough times. I’m sure this woman realizes her fiance shouldn’t drive with a suspended license, but shouldn’t she judge the entire person?

No offense

Yes, she should judge the entire person — using the speeding-ticket arrogance as a window into the character of that person. This isn’t a “rough time,” this is a pattern of rules-are-for-suckers behavior about which he is flatly unrepentant.

It’s a problem when people have overactive outrage meters, but underactive is a problem, too.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

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