We’ve gone over a couple of situations that involve travel, rental cars and breaking the law:
- If you’re in a rental car and get a traffic violation in another country, do you have to pay it?
- Can you rent a car with a DUI on your driving record?
There’s another possibility that probably happens more than any of us would like to think – getting a speeding ticket while you’re in a rental car.
I will be the first to admit that I tend to have a little bit of a lead foot. I’ve also gotten my share of speeding tickets here and there. But never in a rental car. That’s probably because when I’m driving a rental, I’m usually (A) in a car I’m not so familiar with and (B) in an area I don’t know as well. Both of those will tend to slow any smart driver down.
Of course, you eventually become familiar with an unfamiliar car. And you may know you’re going to be on the road for miles on end. Annnnnd so you may start speeding up. And that puts you at risk of getting caught and getting a speeding ticket.
So then what?
First, heads up that speeding and other types of moving violations have nothing to do with your being in a rental car. A moving violation is only connected to whoever is driving and their driver’s license. You, the driver, are responsible for what you’ve done; it doesn’t matter if you’re driving a rental car vs. your own car vs. anyone else’s.
The easiest thing to do
If you get pulled over by a police officer who issues you a ticket for speeding, it’s up to you to take action. If you know you were in the wrong, probably the best thing to do is simply pay the ticket. Somewhere on the ticket there will be an area that goes over all the different ways to pay the fine (i.e. paying online, in person, by mail, etc.), so just get it over with and pay.
What if you don’t know you got the ticket?
However sometimes you can be driving your rental car and get a ticket without even knowing it. Laser technology, red light cameras, etc. all mean that you could get a violation without your knowledge. In that case, the city, town, etc. where the offense happened has no way of knowing who’s behind the wheel, so they can’t track you via driver’s license. Instead, they use your rental car’s license plate to track down the car’s owner – which would be the rental car company.
If that’s what happens, the rental car company gets the ticket in a couple of hours/days/weeks (depends on the municipality). They, in turn, pass that bill to you. And they tack on an administrative fee (because of course they do). They also tell your local authorities so they’re aware of the situation.
However heads up that you may get an electronic ticket and not get the bill from the rental car company at all. When you rented your car, the fine print may have included a small section about how the company is allowed to share your credit card information with American Traffic Solutions for collection purposes. American Traffic Solutions is a firm that, in partnership with local municipalities, installs and manages speed and red light cameras across the country and collects fines from violators. If you get a bill from THEM, it could simply be another charge on the credit card you used to pay for your rental car. Or if not, then American Traffic Solutions will likely ask for payment directly.
Don’t think you can not pay and get away with it
Some people may think, “Well, it happened in a different state. No big deal, then.” That’s definitely not a good way to think. THEY WILL FIND YOU – here’s how and why.
If you got the ticket electronically from your rental car company, don’t even consider not paying them back. Unpaid fines will eventually be sent to a collections agency. It could also lead to your driver’s license being suspended. You could also wind up on their “Do Not Rent” list (these are some other ways that could get you on that list. Don’t do them.)
And if you got a bill from American Traffic Solutions and don’t pay it? Again, be prepared to hear from a collection agency.
What if you want to contest the ticket?
If you think you got the ticket as an error (or if you just like to try to tempt fate), it’s within your rights to contest a speeding ticket.
Since, as mentioned above, rental car companies have nothing to do with speeding tickets, you’ll have to contest it directly with the authority that issued it. The contact information for the ticket-issuing authority should be on the ticket itself.
In some municipalities, drivers are allowed to dispute tickets online. If this option is available, go for it; it’ll be the fastest and easiest way to get the process done.
If there’s no online option for contesting the ticket, you can sometimes do it by mail. Heads up that you may have to appear in court or hire a local attorney who would appear on your behalf. If that’s the direction you choose to go, fighting the ticket could end up costing you more than the fine itself. Good luck with that.
Feature Photo: versageek / wikimedia
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