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Getting a Ticket in a Rental Car: Are there Additional Fees or Fines?

Jul 21, 2008
When driving a rental car, there is a question that looms in the mind of the renter. One of those questions is, "What happens if I get a ticket?" That is a very good question because the car is not in the renter's name. The car is in the name of the rental car company. This means things can get a bit complicated, depending on the company that you're using. Sure, it is simple to say that you just shouldn't do anything to get a ticket. However, it isn't always that easy.

Getting the ticket

So let's say you get a parking ticket. You didn't mean to. You just simply didn't see a sign or parked at a parking meter and forgot to pay it. So you go home, write a check, and mail the payment for your ticket to the city. However, you find a couple weeks later that you receive a letter from the rental car company telling you the ticket has not been paid. You know you paid it, so you call the city and they tell you that they received the payment. You then call the rental car company and you find out that they will charge a fee to you for you having to pass their contact information to the city that has issued you the ticket. This is because it is then on their record that one of their cars received a parking ticket. The catch to this is the fact that the officer issuing the ticket has to take down the VIN and license plate numbers on the car, which are registered under the rental car company.

Sometimes, the only way a fee is assessed is if the car rental company pays the fee and then they pass on the cost to the customer. However, in an instance where you pay the ticket and the car rental company contacts you, chances are they have not checked to see if the ticket was paid. These companies receive thousands of tickets per day and do not have the manpower to check if each and every ticket was paid. When the municipality that issued the ticket contacts the rental car company about a citation, they automatically assume that the ticket was not paid. Sometimes you can fax a receipt from the original payment to the car rental company to have your money refunded. However, the car rental company will charge a fee.

If you receive a speeding ticket, then the penalty is against you and not the car you are driving. Your personal driver's license is involved. The police do check the plates to ensure everything is in check, but it is you who has to pay the penalty and not the car rental company. In fact, the car rental company may not be notified that such a citation occurred in one of their cars. The only way is if something happens you do not pay your fine. If the car rental company has to get involved in that case, then you can expect some kind of additional cost.

Exceptions

There are no exceptions to parking tickets, but the one exception regarding a speeding ticket being against you and not the car is in the case you are caught speeding on camera. If the camera catches you speeding, the authorities use the license plate number to find out where to send the ticket. The rental car company gets the ticket. They may pay it, but will pass the cost and a fee on to you for taking care of it. Yes, it is good to be careful, but it is also good to know how you can be ticketed in a rental car just in case it happens to you.
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