Renting a car while traveling gives you a sense of freedom and comfort that cannot be achieved by taking an Uber. They also save you a ton of money in maintenance, repairs, servicing, and insurance fees. Whether your trip was purely business or a much-needed vacation, rental cars allow you to travel at your own pace and convenience. You don’t have to worry about the bus being late or the absence of taxis on your street.
So, what happens if during your drive you suddenly got stopped by a patrol car for speeding or other common traffic infractions? How can you best handle the situation? Most importantly, how can you protect yourself from liability?
Rental Car Traffic Tickets vs Parking Tickets
Renting a car helps you to get around easily while travelling while also saving yours from wear and tear. The only problem with visiting new places is that even the most skilled driver is bound to violate a road regulation and receive a traffic citation.
To understand how to handle the situation, you first of all need to know the difference between the two tickets. A traffic ticket is a moving violation that is directly applied to your driver’s license regardless of the type of car you are driving; rental or owned. In this case the rental company will only be informed of the violation if you decide to contest the ticket or refuse to pay it.
On the other hand, a parking ticket charges the violation on the car and not the driver’s license. In this case, the rental company will immediately be informed of the violation. The best way to handle this scenario is to pay the fine promptly, inform the rental company, and provide proof of payment.
Either way, allowing the rental company to cover the cost of the tickets is going to take more out of your wallet. You will be charged the fine for violating traffic rules along with a substantial ‘administrative fee’ for their troubles.
Speeding Ticket in a Rental Car
Regardless of whose car you are driving, it is important that you abide by the traffic rules and regulations of that region. This involves going way over the speeding limit. If you are a careful driver, then you don’t need to worry about getting a speeding ticket while driving a rental.
These days, its relatively easy to receive a speeding violation and not even know it. Thanks to laser technology, a photo of the vehicle’s licensing plate is taken and the owner of the car is tracked down – in this case, the rental company.
However, if you do find yourself on the receiving end of this violation, you will have to pay the fine along with other additional charges. This is because the fine for the speeding violation will be sent directly to your rental company. They will take care of the penalty fine before charging it out of your credit card along with other administrative charges.
EZ Pass or Similar Toll Violations
A toll violation in a rental car can be an expensive addition to your trip. This is due to the fact that the violation will be reported directly to the rental agency. You will be charged for the toll and penalty fee, as well as an administrative fee by the rental car company.
When driving on a cashless toll road, you cannot stop to pay with cash at the booth. Instead, the electronic sensors scan your vehicle for a pass or transponder such as the EZ pass. If your vehicle doesn’t have one, then your license plate is captured and sent to the owner. Renters who refuse to pay transponder fees in advance and use a toll road anyway may face additional charges and administrative fees.
The best workaround would be to either bring a transponder from home, buy one for the road, or avoid toll roads all together.
International Traffic Ticket
Some rental companies allow you to take their cars across the border. If you are involved in a traffic violation while driving the rental, you will be responsible for covering the cost of the fine.
Contrary to popular belief, escaping a fine as a foreigner is not an easy task. Depending on the policies of that country, the violation will either be sent directly to you, or your rental company. Either way, it must be paid. If the rental company handles the violation, then its only a matter of time before they charge it to your credit card along with the handling fees.
However, traffic violations while in a foreign country do not necessarily affect your visa status unless you fail to pay the fine or the violation resulted in a more serious offence such as death, injury, or damage. In this case, you will be prosecuted as per the laws of that country to the point of probable deportation.
How Can I Fight a Rental Car Traffic Ticket
If you feel that your traffic ticket was issued in error and plan on contesting it, your first cause of action would be to inform your rental company. Since the violation will also be sent to their offices, it prevents them from handling the charges while you are busy taking the case to court.
While you do have the right to contest a ticket, it is important to note that your grievance is with the authority that issued it and not your rental company. You also need to remember that if you lose the case, you will be liable for all the fines including paying your rental company’s administration fees. Your rental agreement should also include a guideline on what to do in case you want to contest the violation.
Since each state has their own traffic laws, it’s best to review the State’s laws (where you received the traffic ticket) or consult with a traffic ticket attorney for that specific state. For instance, if you’re an out-of-state driver and you received a speeding ticket in New York State, the laws can be a bit tricky to decipher as we see here according to Weiss and Associates, PC, a New York traffic ticket law firm:
The Drivers License Compact requires member states to report traffic ticket convictions imposed upon a motorist to the state where that motorist has a license to drive (home state). The purpose behind sharing this information is so that the home state can determine whether to give you points and so insurance companies can take this information into account in deciding whether to raise your rates.
However, every state is different about point transfers. For instance, a New Jersey driver who is convicted to a New York moving violation will be given 2 points by the NJ MVC regardless of how many points NY assigns to that offense (assuming NJ has a like offense) and regardless of how many points NJ would have assigned it had the offense occurred in New Jersey.
In contrast, although reported to the Pennsylvania DOT, points for a minor traffic offenses in New York, such as speeding and red light violations, will not be added to a Pennsylvania license (except for those holding a CDL license).
Therefore, before you plead guilty, call us to learn how your home state will treat a conviction to a New York traffic ticket. We maintain a comprehensive database covering the interplay between a New York conviction and other states and will free of charge give you sound advice as to whether it makes sense to fight your ticket.
So depending on the severity of your traffic ticket it might benefit you to consult with a traffic ticket attorney. Many traffic ticket attorneys offer a free consultation, so it’s often worth the initial phone call. When a traffic ticket does not carry points or heavy fines – like an EZ Pass or similar toll violation – it’s probably best to simply pay the fine and move on to your next travel destination…. slowly, of course!