It can be a truly sickening feeling. You are walking back to your car when you spy the brightly colored slip of paper tucked under your windshield wiper. Your heart starts to pound a little faster and a little harder. Your stomach drops. Great, a parking ticket. But then you stop and think. This is not your car, right? You have rented the car for this trip, and unlike a moving violation, parking tickets are written not against the driver, but against the car and its registered owner.
So now you begin to wonder if you really have to pay the ticket at all. There is no way that the authorities have your information, and since this is a rental car, it is more than likely that you are in another state or at least another area of your state anyway. It is a nice piece of fantasy, this idea that you can just toss away the ticket and never face any consequences from it. Unfortunately, fantasy is all that it is. You do need to pay the parking ticket, if not out of a sense of doing the right thing, then out of a feeling of self-preservation.
In some jurisdictions, the rental company may receive a courtesy notice of the parking violation before the ticket comes due. However, in most cases the first time the rental car company will be made aware of the ticket is after late fees have already been assessed on the ticket. The rental company will then do one of two things. In some jurisdictions, they can be released from responsibility for the ticket by giving your information to the authorities, and some companies may opt for this alternative. In most jurisdictions, they cannot escape from paying the ticket. The rental car company will pay the parking ticket, but then they will pass the cost on to you.
It is trivially easy for the rental company to take the information from the ticket to identify the date of the ticket and the car it was issued to. With this information, they will go through their records and find your rental agreement. They will then try to charge the credit card you have on file for the cost of the ticket, any late fees or penalties that have accrued, and in some cases an administrative fee to recover their costs in processing the ticket. If for any reason the charge does not go through on your credit card, they will use the information you have given them, including your name, address, and driver’s license number, to locate you and send you a bill for the amount due. If necessary, they would have little trouble in convincing a court that you owe the money, especially considering your contract with the rental car company states that you are responsible for all parking tickets.
Even looking at the matter strictly from the point of view of your own convenience and your bank account, the best move is to pay the parking ticket assessed on your rental car. For your own protection, it is best to submit a copy of the ticket along with a copy of your check or receipt for payment at the time you turn in your car. The rental company then has proof of payment on file in case something goes wrong. By paying the ticket when you receive it, you will save yourself late fees from the issuing municipality and potentially save yourself from additional fees from the rental company.