If you get a parking ticket in a rental car, it's important to pay it off right away—before you return the car, if possible.
Car Renters Are Responsible for Parking Fines
In the terms of conditions of every rental car contract, there is a section on parking offenses. In brief, all parking fines are the responsibility of the renter and the rental car company may charge the renter's credit card for parking fines incurred.
If you decline or simply forget to pay the fine in a timely manner, the rental car company will be notified and it will then pass on not only that charge but an additional administrative fee as well. This administrative fee can vary but it is typically somewhere between $30 and $45.
Why You Should Pay Rental Car Parking Fines Right Away
Parking tickets are tied to the car, not the driver, so there is zero chance the rental car company won't ever find out about it. This is why it's so important to pay the fine quickly. The faster you pay, the less likely it is that the rental car company will be notified.
Somewhere on the parking ticket there will be a section that details multiple ways to pay the fine. Typically, options include paying by phone and paying online. If at all possible, choose one of these quick fixes before you return your rental car. Be sure to keep a confirmation of the payment in case you need to contest being charged a second time by the rental car company.
If you got a ticket while driving a rental car in another country, the authorities can also track you down. While there are many online stories of individuals ignoring parking tickets received outside the US and never seeing a bill, don't try it. The parking ticket will eventually work its way back to the rental car company, which will simply charge you for the ticket and administrative fee down the road.
Unpaid fines and rental car administration fee balances will eventually be sent to a collections agency. In addition, you might end up on the rental car company's dreaded Do Not Rent list. It's best to pay your fine and move on.
How to Contest a Parking Ticket on a Rental Car
If you believe the parking ticket was issued in error, you need to weigh the cost of the fine versus the hassle of contesting the ticket and the possibility that you will also be charged administrative fees by the rental car company.
On your rental car contract, there will be a section on how to appeal parking tickets. Typically the renter has the right to challenge a ticket within a set amount of time—often within 60 days from the date the ticket is issued, but be sure to check your contract for the exact timeframe.
If you decide to fight the ticket, you need to resolve it directly with the authority that issued it. You won't be able to resolve a parking ticket with the rental car company, as it will defer to the municipality. The contact information for the ticket-issuing authority will be on the ticket itself.
In some municipalities, drivers can contest tickets online. If this option is available, take it. It's fast, relatively easy and avoids wasting hours of your time.
If there is no online option for disputing a ticket, you can typically do it by mail. But be aware that you may have to appear in court or hire a local attorney to appear on your behalf. In this scenario, fighting the fine could end up costing you more than the parking fine itself.
If you decide to contest a parking ticket, it's imperative that you proactively notify the rental car company as soon as possible. If you reach a resolution, provide records to the rental car company so that they can waive the administrative fee and any other charges that might be issued to you.
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