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 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 (depending 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 VerraMobility for collection purposes. VerraMobility 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 VerraMovility 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 VerraMobility 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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Australia. Rural Highway. 92 Kilometers per hour. 90 Kilometer per hour area. Police car came towards me, flashed his lights, drove on.
With rental car company fees, those light flashes cost me $600.
As someone who defends traffic tickets for a living…
What I can say is that you should never ignore a ticket, even if it’s in another country.
In my home jurisdiction of Ontario, Canada, if you’re a NY or MI driver, Ontario tickets (with the possible exception of ones issued by speed cameras or red light cameras) WILL affect your driving record down there. If fact it will affect your record if you’re from anywhere else in Canada – besides British Columbia, which doesn’t have agreements with any other provinces from what I understand. Quebec also has some agreements with a few northern US states.
The same applies vice-versa. If you are in Ontario driver and you get a ticket in NY, it will affect your record here.
Get proper legal advice before deciding what to do. You’ll want to find this advice in the general area that you got the ticket because they will typically understand how things work.
Tickets from speed cameras and red light cameras will be sent to the rental car company, and you can expect to be charged for them.
I fought a ticket last month and won. I had the option of trial by Zoom or in person. I used Zoom. I watched about 30 cases before me, all represented by lawyers. I learned what they said, changed my prepared speech somewhat and copied parts of what the lawyers said. When it was my turn, I explained and got the ticket dismissed.