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Can You Rent A Car If You Have A DUI Conviction?

The answer is yes. Nothing is barring you from renting a car if you have a DUI on your record. However, rental companies can refuse to rent a car to anyone with a DUI, and most of them do.

Rental Car Companies May Check Your Driving Record

Most companies check your driving history before handing you the keys to a rental car. This is really a function of managing their risk. Most major companies will reject anyone with a DUI on their record.

However, the time between your DUI conviction and when you request a rental also determines whether you will be denied. Different companies go back further than others. Larger, well-known companies tend to have stricter policies and more comprehensive checks. Smaller, local rental companies might not have the resources to conduct thorough background checks, making them more accessible options for those with DUI records.

You may need to shop around or look at renting from one of the lesser companies. Because your options will be limited, it is best to do this before you travel.

Now, not all rental car companies check driving records. Therefore, they may not know about your DUI conviction. However, if you are not allowed to operate a vehicle for any reason, do not try to rent a car.

Can You Rent A Car If You Are Required To Have An Ignition Interlock?

The answer to this is no. Car rental companies do not have rental cars with ignition interlock devices. The requirement that you drive with an interlock is specific to you, not the car you own. So if you have an interlock on your car at home, you cannot rent a car without one and drive it legally.

The absence of IIDs in rental cars is partly due to insurance and liability issues. Rental companies aim to minimize the risk and complications that could arise from renting to drivers with DUI convictions requiring IIDs.

One option for those traveling and requiring an IID-equipped vehicle is to use a service that transports your personal vehicle to your destination. While more costly, this ensures compliance with legal requirements.

In some cases, it might be possible to obtain a temporary exemption from the IID requirement for the duration of your rental, especially if traveling for work or emergency reasons. This would require legal counsel and possibly court approval.

Are There Alternatives?

If you can’t rent a car, there are alternatives. Perhaps you can hire a private driver for your trip. Also, public transportation is usually an option. And ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft may be a better alternative for your transportation needs.

Some rental agreements allow for someone else to be the primary driver, with you as a passenger. This can be a workaround if traveling with someone who has a clean driving record.

Major Rental Companies’ DUI Policies

For U.S.-based rental car companies, policies regarding DUI convictions vary but are generally strict, reflecting the companies' risk management strategies. Here's a summary of the policies:

Avis, Budget, and Payless

These brands, all part of the Avis Budget Group, have a clear policy regarding past DUI charges. To rent a car, drivers cannot have any DUI or DWI charges on their record within the last 48 months. Additionally, there can't be any other current issues that would disqualify them from renting, such as reckless driving charges in the last 36 months, more than three moving violations, and more than three accidents in 36 months. Avis, for instance, explicitly states that you cannot rent a car if your driving record shows a DUI, DWAI (driving while alcohol impaired), or DWI (driving while intoxicated) within the last 48 months. They use an electronic database to check for DUI/DWI convictions and require renters to sign an agreement that their driving record meets company standards.

Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty

These companies, under Hertz Global Holdings, may perform driver record checks, though they are less explicit about their policies regarding DUI/DWI convictions compared to Avis Budget Group. Their checks could potentially flag a DUI/DWI, but the policies do not directly address these convictions in public documentation​​. Hertz does specify that licenses should be in good standing for over a year, which indicates that a DUI within the last 12 months may not be allowed.

Alamo, Enterprise, and National

These companies do not publicly list specific policies regarding checks for renters' driving history in relation to DUI/DWI. However, they do restrict drivers who are required to use an ignition interlock device (IID) following a DUI/DWI charge. Essentially, any license that, on its face, restricts the licensee to the use and operation of a vehicle equipped with a breathalyzer apparatus is not accepted.

Other Consequences of DUI Offenses

Let’s break down some of the consequences of a DUI offense outside of being denied a rental car.

Legal Repercussions

  • Fines and Fees: The financial penalties for a DUI can be substantial. For instance, in Florida, DUI fines range from $500 to $1,000 for a first conviction, increasing if there's a minor in the vehicle or the blood/breath alcohol level (BAL) is .15 or higher. For a second conviction, fines range from $1,000 to $4,000, with higher penalties under similar conditions. Third and subsequent convictions see fines of at least $2,000, potentially rising to $5,000 depending on circumstances.
  • Incarceration: Jail time is a common consequence for DUI convictions, with the average time spent in jail after a first DUI being 2.1 days. However, this can significantly increase with subsequent offenses or under certain conditions, like having an exceptionally high blood alcohol content (BAC).
  • Probation: DUI convictions often result in probation, which may include alcohol treatment or education programs. Probation terms can include a mix of restrictions, such as community service and regular check-ins with a probation officer.

Driving Privileges

  • License Suspension/Revocation: A first DUI offense can lead to a license suspension ranging from 90 days to several months, with longer suspensions for subsequent offenses. Some states allow for restricted licenses that permit driving under certain conditions, such as work, school, childcare, doctor visits, etc.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Installation and maintenance of an IID can cost between $70 to $150 for installation and $60 to $80 monthly. The requirement duration varies by state but can be mandated for up to a year or more after a first offense.

Insurance Impact

  • Increased Premiums: DUI convictions typically result in increased insurance premiums due to the high-risk nature of insuring a driver with such a conviction. This can lead to the need for specialized high-risk insurance policies, which are more expensive.
  • SR-22 Form: After a DUI, some states require an SR-22 form to be filed by your insurance company, which certifies that you carry the state's minimum liability coverage. This requirement can last for several years after the conviction.

Employment and Professional Life

  • Job Loss: DUI convictions can result in job loss, especially in professions requiring driving or having strict criminal record policies. The impact on employment can vary greatly depending on the field and the specifics of the offense.
  • Future Employment: A DUI can make it difficult to secure future employment, particularly in roles that require clean driving records or involve sensitive duties. It may necessitate a career change or limit job opportunities.

Travel and Immigration

  • Travel Restrictions: Certain countries, such as Canada, may deny entry to individuals with DUI convictions, affecting international travel plans and opportunities.
  • Immigration Issues: A DUI can complicate visa applications, residency status, and naturalization processes, potentially leading to denials or delays.

Social and Personal Impact

  • Educational Opportunities: DUI convictions can impact scholarship eligibility and college admissions, affecting educational and professional development paths.
  • Public Record: Being a matter of public record, a DUI conviction can affect personal reputation and social relationships, leading to broader social implications.

Financial Obligations

  • Legal Expenses: The costs associated with defending a DUI case, including legal fees and court costs, can be significant and vary widely.
  • Restitution: If the DUI incident resulted in property damage or personal injury, the convicted individual may be required to pay restitution to the victims, adding to the financial burden.

Each consequence carries significant implications, emphasizing the importance of responsible decision-making to avoid the severe and lasting effects of a DUI.

Speak With an Attorney

The Denson Firm is experienced in handling all types of DUI cases. If you’re looking to challenge your DUI charge, contact The Denson Firm today to speak with a St. Petersburg DUI attorney. We offer free phone consultations to get started.

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