Every rental car company maintains a Do Not Rent list. Landing on that list essentially gets you blackballed from renting from that company. Usually, a renter ends up on a Do Not Rent list after an incident with a rental car, but it can also happen due to a poor driver history in other cars, and the subsequent exclusion may be permanent or temporary.
You'll be asked for your driver's license at the start of the car rental process, primarily for identity verification and ensuring that your license is in good standing. But many rental car companies will also run a driver record check.
One member of the AutoSlash team found himself on a Do Not Rent list because of an unpaid parking ticket that led to a suspended license. Our team member had not been notified that his license had been suspended and, luckily, was able to resolve the issue quickly by settling the ticket and following up with the DMV. Since he was renting from an agency close to home, he was able to resolve the issue, get off the Do Not Rent list and be on his way. But imagine flying across the country, arriving at an airport in the late evening, and finding out then that you are on a Do Not Rent list.
Will You Pass the Car Rental Driver Record Check?
Rental car companies are not legally required to run driver record checks. There are two primary schools of thought. In the first, companies use driver record checks as a proactive measure by blocking rentals to those most likely to cause damage. In the second, companies don't bother running driver checks, since if a driver presents a valid license, the rental car company is largely absolved from responsibility.
The Good News? The vast majority of drivers will pass the driver record check. It wasn't always that way—when a rental car company had to worry about lawsuits bankrupting the firm, as many as 10 percent of drivers failed driver record checks. Nowadays, unless a driver is unaware of having a suspended license—in which case he would already know he was unable to rent a car—surprises would be rare. On the other hand, a driver might to worry if he's picking up so many points that his license is close to being revoked.
There are two issues that will immediately cause a driver to be rejected without fail by every rental car company:
- A requirement on the license for an ignition interlock device (breathalyzer). These restrictions are usually reserved for repeat DUI offenders. This would get you banned even from companies that do not conduct driver record checks.
- Getting caught using a fake ID.
Which Car Companies Run Driver Record Checks?
Avis Budget Group: Avis, Budget and PaylessAvis may choose to run a driver record check or have the renter sign a document attesting that Avis's driver criteria are met.
At the time of rental, the renter or authorized driver may be subject to an electronic DMV check from the state that issued the driver's license, or may be asked to sign a declaration attesting to specific criteria:
* The renter/authorized driver has a valid license that is not currently suspended, expired, revoked, canceled or surrendered.
* The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 36 months, had 1 or more convictions for reckless driving.
* The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 48 months, had 1 or more convictions for driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or driving while alcohol impaired (DWAI).
* The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 36 months, failed to report or leave the scene of an accident.
* The renter/authorized driver has never been in possession of a stolen vehicle or used a vehicle in a crime.
* The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 24 months, had 3 or more convictions for moving violations (including seat belt violations).
* The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 36 months, had 3 or more accidents.
Budget has a bit of trouble staying on message, alternately stating that it may or will run a driver record check, with similar disqualifying activities as Avis.
Payless may run a driver record check and "may deny a rental car based on a negative driving record."
Hertz Global Holdings: Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty
The three Hertz Global Holdings companies (Dollar, Hertz, and Thrifty) have policies allowing driver record checks but do not provide detail about the disqualifying factors. However, past implementations of driver record checks by Hertz closely mirrors Avis's policy. Invalid licenses (for any reason), vehicular crimes, high numbers of accidents, or extensive tickets are the common "no-go" scenarios.
Enterprise Holdings: Alamo, Enterprise and National
Aside from the breathalyzer restrictions, the companies in this group don't have explicit corporate policies for driver checks.
A driver with a high number of points on his or her license is probably best served by avoiding the Avis Budget Group and patronizing one of the Enterprise companies. If you have enough infractions on your record to be ineligible at Avis or Budget, you should consider buying the expensive but comprehensive rental car insurance products offered by the rental car companies.