Plenty of drivers who rent a car are extra diligent in their driving habits. Whether the rental is a temporary replacement for a car that is in the shop or is for driving while on vacation, it is normal for drivers to be more cautious than normal about getting into an accident in a car they do not own.
Unfortunately, not all rental car drivers are as diligent with avoiding traffic tickets. How a traffic ticket affects the driver of a rental car depends on how the ticket was issued—via traffic camera or by a police officer.
Police-issued Ticket to Rental Driver
Regardless of whether one is in their home state or another state, when a police officer issues a traffic ticket, the ticket is associated with the license of the driver. As such, the effect is the same as though the driver had been in their own vehicle.
If the car was rented while out-of-state, many drivers are tempted to toss the ticket. They assume an out-of-state traffic ticket will not follow them home. This is a huge mistake. Most states communicate when driver from outside their state is convicted of a traffic violation or fails to pay a traffic ticket. Those who do not pay out of state tickets can face a variety of issues, including points and fines. Some states, like New York, will even suspend the right to drive in the state should the ticket go unpaid. In addition, most local licensing authorities will display out-of-state traffic tickets on driving records, which means that ticket can affect a person’s auto insurance rates.
Camera-issued Ticket to Rental Driver
Traffic cameras, including red light cams, speed cameras, and even bus stop parking cameras, have no way of knowing who is driving a car. All the camera can do is photograph the vehicle and license plate in the process of committing a violation. Because the license plate is registered to the rental car company, the ticket is sent there.
Drivers should not assume that this means they will get off scot-free. The date and time stamp on the ticket will tell the rental car company who the car was loaned to when it was ticketed. As such, the rental car company will either bill the driver for the cost (possibly with an “administration fee” charge tacked on) or deduct it from any possible damage deposit.
How to Fight a Rental Car Traffic Ticket
This also depends on how the ticket was issued. For camera-based tickets, there may be no option to fight the ticket; the rental car company most often pays the civil fine and then charges the driver. By the time the driver finds out, it is usually too late to fight the ticket. The good news is that there is little chance the ticket will appear on one’s driving record, and even if it did, camera tickets in nearly all states do not carry points.
When a police officer issues a traffic ticket, drivers will almost always be able to challenge the ticket. If the ticket was issued in one’s home state, there is no difference between this and a ticket received while in one’s own vehicle. If the ticket was issued while out of state, then things can get more complicated. Drivers should first contact their local DMV to find out how an out-of-state ticket will affect them. Then they should contact an attorney licensed in that state to find out the best strategy for avoiding the consequences.
Who Should You Contact?
If you have been issued a traffic ticket while driving a rental car (or your own car) in New York or New Jersey, you should speak with an attorney to find out if and how you can beat the charges. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation about your case