Sunday, February 27, 2011

Can a Rental Car Company Refuse to Rent a Car to Someone with a DUI?

Here is the scenario:  You were arrested, but not convicted of a DUI in California, you were given a temporary pink license or a paper that says you can drive.  The question is can I rent a car without any difficulty?  The answer to this question depends on two primary factors 1) Does the person have a valid license at the time of the request to rent, and 2) Does the person appear to be free from any present signs of impairment or signs of physical or mental incompetence?  If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then the rental company is not prevented by law to rent the licensee a vehicle, according to Matthew Ruff, a prominent DUI Attorney in California.  The California Appellate Court held in Flores vs. Enterprise Rent a Car, that a rental car company cannot be held liable for renting a car to someone with a pending DUI or prior DUI convictions.  As long as they have a valid license at the time and are not impaired they are legally able to rent a vehicle to the person. 

What about renting a car with the "temporary license" issued following a DUI arrest?  A temporary is as good as any other type of drivers license, use it in conjunction with a photo I.D. and there should be no problem.  The bottom line is that the Vehicle Code does not require the Rental Car Company to do anything more than verify that the prospective driver has a valid license and is not showing signs of being under the influence at the time. Prior DUI convictions or a pending DUI case are not per se a reason to decline a rental.  In many instances, the rent a car company will confirm the validity of the applicant's license with the DMV prior to releasing the car. Therefore, the "pink piece of paper" issued as a license after a DUI arrest should and indeed must suffice as a valid license to rent a car.

Some experts suggest the person get enrolled in the rental car companies preferred driving program.  This allows you to bypass the lines and desks that require you to show a license prior to picking up a car.  Also, get a California ID card that looks very similar to a license and can be used in conjunction with the paper temporary.  The process of getting a CA ID card is simple.