Home Travel What Kind Of Weird Rental Car Law IS This?

What Kind Of Weird Rental Car Law IS This?

by SharonKurheg

When you rent a car, there are many rules made by the rental car companies that have to be followed. What could happen if you return your car late. Minimum driving age requirements (and in some countries, you also have to make sure you’re not too old to drive. And DANG, some of those “old” ages are awfully young!). You also may only be able to reserve a car with a credit card (but then you may be able to pay with a debit card [here’s how], or even cash!).

There will also be laws where you’ll be driving. For example, car seat laws will vary from state to state. Some states allow car rental companies to charge for extra drivers and some don’t (here’s the list of which states allow what). In the state of Florida, rental car companies aren’t allowed to have signs or bumper stickers on their fleet that say the car is a rental (it was supposed to cut down on theft of rental cars, but here’s a spoiler: rental cars registered in Florida always get renewal stickers in June, Next time you’re at Disney World, check out how many FL license plates have stickers expiring that month).

With all that in mind, while going down a rabbit hole on the internet the other day, I found a law for renting a car that just blew my mind. It’s not a country or even a state law, but a county-specific one. And frankly, I have no idea of WHY it is.

Miami-Dade County is in southeastern Florida. The home of Miami, it’s a very popular place for tourists. When you arrive at Miami International Airport and rent a car (or if you rent one anywhere else in the county), you go through the whole rigamarole – insurance, tolls (heads up – if you have an E-ZPass, you can use it throughout Florida now!), whether you’ll prepay for gas or return with a full tank (here’s some advice about that), you name it.

But here’s something interesting and different. Before you leave with the rental car keys in your hand, the car rental company will – yes, WILL – give you a map. They have to. IT IS MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LAW (see Sec. 8A-1.1 of miamidade.gov) and they have a 16-page PDF of exactly what this map has to include. And if you don’t want to take it, you have to sign a waiver that says it was offered to you.

From what I can ascertain, the law went into effect in 2009, but I have no idea why.

To be fair, the map includes some helpful info for drivers, such as major streets and highways, all Visitor Information centers, etc. Their recommended safety info is also spot on. But if you think about it:

  • The needs of drivers in 2009 are not the needs of drivers in 2021 – travelers can find almost everything on that map on peoples’ phones
  • When we’re constantly looking at saving the environment, is there no thought about the environmental impact of all those paper maps?

I also don’t think the Miami-Dade government people who decided this map HAD to be offered have ever thought about updating the info on it. Cases in point:

  • Of the 9 Visitor Information Centers listed, 4 are no longer at the addresses listed (one of the buildings is now a restaurant). Besides that, the website for the Official Travel & Tourism Site of Greater Miami & Miami Beach currently has 24 Visitor Centers listed, not 9.
  • They’ve got a list of 48 attractions of museums that have to be included. 6 are closed (5 permanently,  and one is closed through January 2022, due to COVID).
  • One of the sports and entertainment facilities they insist be included has changed names. Twice. (good luck searching for Landshark Stadium – it turned into Sun Life Stadium in 2010, and has been Hard Rock stadium since 2016).
  • Of the 24 cultural centers and convention centers that must be listed, one is spelled wrong, another changed its names and another one is no longer a theater but a space for retail shops.
  • Their information about tolls, including prices and rental car toll programs, is grossly outdated.

I don’t know why Miami-Dade County says this map and other traveler info HAS to be given to drivers. In this digital age, it’s a waste of paper. But if they INSIST on it happening, you’d think they’d update it here and there, no?

Feature Photo: pxhere

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

5 comments

Pierre August 3, 2021 - 6:25 pm

“In the state of Florida, rental car companies aren’t allowed to have signs or bumper stickers on their fleet that say the car is a rental (it was supposed to cut down on theft of rental cars”. Hmm, I thought it was to lessen the chances of tourists becoming crime victims. All FL rental cars used to have plates that identified them as “Lease”. Then there were some high profile crimes committed against tourists and the process was changed.

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Steve S. August 3, 2021 - 6:35 pm

Reason is that in the 90s, tourists got lost and would end up in dicey neighborhoods. Carjackings we’re rampant. The sticker rule is related: it let thieves know who was a tourist. Often the cars were targeted for intentional wrecks. At one point, a foreign (I think German) couple was murdered when their rental was targeted.

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Alon August 3, 2021 - 6:48 pm

I don’t think the reason for unbranded cars is to deter theft . . . i think it’s to deter carjackings/violence due to a VERY violent summer we had back in the early 2000’s in which german tourists were almost hunted for sport . . . as a FL native, i do remember that time . . . scary stuff . . . that was also when all rental car license plates started with “X” or something like that and that’s since been stopped

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derek August 4, 2021 - 3:21 am

I like rental car maps. It can give me a general idea of the highways better than a smartphone. A smartphone is better for a detailed view of a specific intersection. I used to keep car rental maps in my car at home so that people wouldn’t think I have a GPS in the glove compartment (standalone GPS is now uncommon, replaced by phones).

As far as not making my rental car look like a rental car, I sometimes bring one or two bumper stickers (folding over the corner for easy removal) if I am driving a lot in a bad area. I hope that with bumper stickers, criminals will see the car and think that it mustn’t be a rental car.

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DaninMCI August 4, 2021 - 5:56 am

These laws went into affect because there was a bunch of organized criminals targeting tourist who rented cars in the Miami area back in the 2000’s. The idea is keep people from seeing that it’s obviously a rental and give them a map so they don’t get lost. Just as Alon stated. You can still tell if a car is a rental sometimes but it’s less obvious. You can usually spot an ex-rental car on used car lots by the barcode sticker on windshield or side windows

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