Seventh Street and G Street intersection District of Columbia Chinatown Washington
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Warning: Rental Car Companies May Automatically Pay Violations — and There Is Little You Can Do About It

“If you are issued a ticket while driving a rental car, rental car agreements provide that a rental party is responsible for all tickets issued to the rental vehicle during the rental period. DC DMV has discovered that some rental car companies will automatically pay any ticket(s) incurred on vehicles and charge the customer the ticket fine plus administrative fees. They will not provide you with the opportunity to adjudicate the tickets, as the adjudication process ends once a ticket is paid even if it going through the adjudication process. As the legal owner of the vehicle, rental car companies are within their rights to use this process.”

Warning: Rental Car Companies May Automatically Pay Violations — and There Is Little You Can Do About It

That paragraph you just read is found at the Contest Parking and Photo Enforcement Tickets section of the official Internet web site of the Department of Motor Vehicles of the District of Columbia

…and that is the focus of the situation which FlyerTalk member JCFans — who rented a car from Hertz to drive from Baltimore to the District of Columbia — faces after a “charge showed up on my credit card for US$180 under Hertz Traffic Violation-ATS AME MESA. I find that this charge is extremely excessive and unreasonable.”

The charge seemed like adding insult to injury after JCFans — who is from Canada — realized too late that the rental car passed through a completely electronic toll and ultimately paid $18.00 for the purportedly $4.00 toll.

FlyerTalk member dc2005b advised that “For reference in DC going 11-15 mph over the limit will get a $100 ticket, 16-20 mph over gets $150 and its not hard to imagine them charging a $30 admin fee to pay the ticket on your behalf.”


What happens in the event in which you find disputing the infraction cited upon you necessary — perhaps due to an equipment malfunction or some other anomaly? One option is to explain your situation to the company which issued the credit card which you used to pay for the car rental and follow their advice.

Another option available to you could be to contact the rental car company and explain your point of view — perhaps even attempt to get a copy of all documentation pertaining to the violation, if it is available — but as FlyerTalk member Often1 posted, “For Hertz, nothing is going to matter because it has paid the violation as the registered owner and charged you for the ticket and an administrative fee.” This means that the issue has already been resolved, according to the rental car company — and not only could that likely happen prior to you even knowing about it; but contesting it may already be too late, as there is possibly little to nothing which you can do about it by the time you do find out about it.

You may also try to obtain documentation from the governing organization itself — again, if any is available — to get additional details about the traffic infraction in which you have been accused of committing.

If you believe that this is unfair, consider that on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Dennis Herrera — who is the City Attorney for San Francisco — accused Hertz Corporation and American Traffic Solutions, Incorporated of “fraudulently and deceptively inducing its customers who drive across San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge to purchase an ‘optional’ toll service called PlatePass” and “seeks a court order to halt these deceptive practices; restitution — with interest — to victims; and civil penalties of up to $2,500.00 against each defendant for each unlawful act.”

That may be of little solace to JCFans; but at least one government entity is attempting to do something about rental car companies profiting in a deceptive manner from customers pertaining to electronic tolls and traffic infractions.

Prior to renting a vehicle, you might first want to find out what is the official policy of the rental car company concerning traffic infractions and violations, as some rental car companies might give you the opportunity to contest a citation against you prior to paying it.

The obvious way to avoid experiencing a similar situation to JCFans is to simply obey all traffic laws as long as you are driving a rental car — assuming that no aforementioned anomalies occur with which you might otherwise feel compelled to dispute that you believe are not your fault.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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