He Got a Real Pretty Rental Car, Ain’t He

What is a traveler if not a rental car driver? There might be those amongst you who only travel to big cities where you use public transportation, or who use private drivers – but for the most part everyone who travels frequently rents cars at least occasionally.

AppleApe is one such traveler and as such he ran headlong into a common problem for out-of-town car renters.

He received a speeding ticket.

Now he is faced with a conundrum:

Should I waste 25k miles to fly 3 hours(6 hours roundtrip) to fight this ticket
on the court date? Does anybody ever use FF miles to fly somewhere to
fight a ticket? Or should I just give up and pay the $235.

This leads to a very interesting discussion about speeding ticket fines in general and many travelers share tales about their belief that they were pulled over and written a ticket precisely because they were driving rental cars.

And to even further relate this to travel, catsongea provides a link to a recent hilarious episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” that contains the following bit:

Back to the thread – pretty much no one recommends that AppleApe use miles to fly back and fight the ticket in court. Some do, however, offer alternatives.

many jurisdictions that use tickets as a revenue source rather than traffic safety are happy to convert it to a broken taillight or faulty muffler for double the fine. ~dvs7310

Can you fight it by mail? In many states you can. ~Pinned

There are thousands of towns in the US that I’ve been to once that I’m very unlikely to ever visit again. So, unless it was likely to have insurance cost consequences that I’d rather avoid, I think I personally would just forget about it. ~cubbie

I don’t think it’s practical to fly back to contest the ticket. Hiring a local lawyer to go to court and fight it will likely be cheaper than going back yourself. ~cbn42

But perhaps the best handling of out-of-state tickets shared so far in the thread comes from expert7700, who has received two within the last eight years and has handled them thusly:

#1 paid the required amount for a hearing – $25 – and never heard back until 26 months later when the court warned they were issuing a warrant unless I paid the rest of my $257 fine. I mailed a copy of my original check marked bail for hearing. Got a call a week later from the clerk offering hearing dates. I replied that I’d love to attend a hearing but they were now past the 2yr statute of limitations. She puts me on hold, Judge comes on and said your case is dismissed. Bonus part was they were speechless when I requested (and received) a refund for my $25.


#2) I phoned the DAs office and asked for the procedures to be clarified as I was going to have to book airfare cross country to appear. I asked if the pretrial hearing could somehow be combined with the hearing date since airfare was over $400 each round trip. They asked me if I realize it was only a $180 ticket to begin with. I stated that yes I did but my driving record, work, and insurance meant that I had no other choice. Put me on hold and came back saying my ticket was now a non moving violation and to please send $22.50 to have it dismissed.

And with that post I officially have a new hero.

Have you ever received a ticket while operating a rental car while traveling? And, if so, how did you handle it?

Read the thread in its entirety: travel to a strange city and get a 34 in 30 ticket… fine is $235… ripoff?

Bad Day In Little Flock” by Doug Wertman. CC BY 2.0.


  1. How about this got that decided not to return for his $474 in fines?

    Here in Illinois, many municipal charges (aka Notices to Appear) come via police discretion as an alternative to state charges even though the crime can be more serious than a speeding ticket, e.g. battery, retail theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, etc. The person usually has the option to pay the ticket to “settle” it without ever having to appear in court (or even having a case filed against him/her, thus no public record).

    Although some tickets are “must appear” tickets. If you fail to appear, you will likely be defaulted for the amount PLUS COURT COSTS (per the John Oliver example) and/or have a warrant issued for you.

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