Yes, most rental companies do check the renter’s driving history unbeknownst to you. However, this information is usually disclosed somewhere on their website. Once you handover your driving license they do a background check to assess if it is safe to rent you a car.
This has now become a compulsory policy in cities like New York and Florida, where if the driver causes an accident the rental car company is held liable. Due to this, rental businesses now require customers to sign a statement saying that they have an acceptable driving record. In the event of an accident, the rental company can shift the blame onto the customer.
This does not happen all the time, but it is good to be prepared. If a driving record doesn’t fall within the rental company’s requirements they will reject the customer. This is to ensure that the company’s property is not damaged in any way and to avoid any messy liability and insurance issues.
Many well-known car renters like Alamo, Hertz, Budget, and Avis, all check customers’ driving records through the Department of Motor Vehicles Databases. Other rentals may rely on screening companies that have access to the DMV database.
These are the basic criteria used by rental companies.
- Caught with an invalid or suspended driver’s license
- One incident of drunk driving, hit-and-run, driving a stolen car (within 48 hours), or other serious offences within the past 72 months
- Three or more moving violations within the past 36 months
- Involved in two or more accidents within the past 36 months, fatality or bodily injury-causing accidents within the past 72 months
These criteria may differ between rental companies, be sure to check their websites for any policies or information regarding driver’s license background checks.
Also, note that car rental companies may use auto rental software that can record driver behaviour. In the case of an accident by the customer the rental company will be able to present evidence and may blacklist that customer.
If your driving record has some of the above criteria, it is better to be prepared.
- Check if your state DMV makes driver records available, if they do check with the rental company if they do a background check
- You can get your driver record evaluated by a screening company, TML Information Services offers this service for around $11
- You can also request your driving record from your state DMV and obtain the screening criteria of the rental company and make your own evaluation
- If you are not eligible according to the standards of the rental company then have someone else book a rental for you and have them drive the car instead. This is the safest option in case of a worst-case scenario.