Rental Cars and Traffic Tickets: What You Need to Know
Updated: Apr 6
Whether you are renting a car when traveling in the U.S. or internationally, keep these pointers in mind to avoid getting a traffic ticket, ruining your driving record, and being socked with fees.
Before your trip, check out highway speed limits, rules about right turns, and other traffic prohibitions in the regions through which you’ll be traveling.
Don't assume you're home free if you don't get a traffic summons after speeding through a red light when driving a rental car. You may receive a letter after returning your rental car, informing you that you need to pay a red light camera ticket that was captured on a speed camera. You'll be charged administrative fees that cover the cost of the rental car company providing your name, address, and other information to the ticketing authority.
Be alert to parking spots reserved for municipal vehicles. If you park in one, months after your trip, your rental car company may send you a notice of a parking violation, including a fine from the municipality and an administrative charge from the rental car company for providing your contact information to city officials.
If you get a ticket for a moving violation when driving in another state, don't toss it in the trash. When you receive a moving violation, it doesn't really matter what vehicle you're in. The violation is applied directly to your driver's license, which means you may receive points on your license (or worse), depending on the severity of the violation. Simply handle the ticket you received when driving the rental car the same way you normally would any traffic ticket. If you choose to pay the ticket rather than dispute it, be sure to keep a copy of your payment receipt. More than likely, the rental car company will never be informed of the ticket unless you fail to pay it. If you fail to pay the ticket, the issuing agency will contact the rental car company attached to the vehicle you were in when the violation occurred. At this point, the rental car company may choose to pay the ticket and then send you a bill for which you will be responsible.
If you receive a parking ticket when driving a rental car, the violation is charged directly to the vehicle and not to your driver's license. As a result, it is more likely that the rental car company will find out about the ticket. The best way to handle this is to pay the ticket immediately and contact the rental car company to provide them proof of this.
If you receive a letter or bill from a rental car company stating that you owe money for a ticket, send the company your payment receipt as proof that the ticket was handled. Sometimes, there is miscommunication between issuing agencies and rental car companies. Showing that you paid the ticket could prevent you from being responsible for additional fees. If you haven't paid the ticket, you’ll be liable for the cost of the ticket as well as any additional fees. If you plan on disputing the ticket, let the rental car company know about your intentions as soon as possible. You will be responsible for all costs, however, if you lose your case.
Eli Moore is a top traffic and criminal defense attorney in Westchester County and the Bronx. For a free consultation, please write EliMooreLaw@gmail.com or call (914) 523-5552. Learn more at EliMooreTrafficAttorney.com.