A DUI conviction has far-reaching effects. Most drivers are aware such convictions come with financial costs, potential jail time, attendance at mandatory DUI classes, and probation and these consequences extend beyond the courtroom and affect their personal and professional lives as well.
And still, if you face a DUI conviction, there are other privileges and opportunities you may not realize you have lost until you pursue them, such as renting a car. Will rental companies allow you to operate their vehicles if you have a DUI on your record? Most likely, not for a while.
To protect yourself from the range of consequences following a DUI conviction, secure legal representation from a Los Angeles DUI Attorney.
How a DUI Restricts Driving Privileges
Arrests and convictions for DUI charges result in potential driving restrictions from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the court system, and private companies.
After even just an arrest for DUI, not a conviction, the arresting officer will confiscate your license, issue you a temporary license, and give you official notice that your license has been suspended. The officer is required under California law to forward your license and order of suspension to the DMV. You have ten days to appeal for a hearing to fight the suspension.
If you do not appeal, the DMV will enforce a suspension. Should you lose your fight at the hearing, the DMV will suspend your license for a period ranging from four months to three years, depending on prior convictions and the circumstances prompting your arrest.
The DMV suspension is separate from additional license suspensions the criminal court may issue upon your conviction. A first-time DUI conviction can bring a six-month license suspension and that duration will be extended if you receive a felony conviction or upon prior offenses.
When your license is suspended, it is illegal for you to drive in California or any other state.
Car Rental Company Restrictions
Since it is illegal for you to drive with a suspended license, a rental company cannot allow you to rent and drive one of its vehicles. If you present an invalid license to a company in an attempt to rent, you can wind up in serious legal and financial trouble if discovered or if you get into an accident. Or, if you take a chance that the company will not do a check and lie about your DUI, the company will most likely not cover your costs in the event of an accident.
However, even once your suspension is lifted, or if you have a restricted license, you will typically face car-rental roadblocks. Car rental companies are private businesses and as such, can enforce whatever additional restrictions they choose on their clientele.
Can You Rent a Car with a DUI?
Once your license is reinstated and you can legally drive, car rental companies can still deny you access to their vehicles. There is no set policy all companies must follow, but for some, the amount of time that has passed since your conviction is an important factor. For example, to rent from:
- Budget, you must have a clean record for at least 48 months. Avis follows a similar plan
- Hertz, you cannot have license restrictions requiring the use of a breathalyzer. Alamo and Enterprise follow similar policies
- Sixt, you must be 21 and have a valid license. The company does not mention a DUI policy on its website
Companies that do not do initial background checks may still have conditions for those with restricted licenses, and you may not learn of these policies until you attempt to pick up the car. The best plan is to speak to a representative and explain your situation thoroughly.
Car Rental Companies Are Not Required to Do Background Checks
Car rental companies can rent vehicles to any driver who has a valid license and insurance coverage. Rental companies are not legally required to access the drivers’ DMV records. If a driver has a DUI accident in a rental car, the company is not liable as long as the driver had a valid license at the time of the accident and did not demonstrate impairment.
However, car rental companies want to protect their assets. While they may not be liable for a driver’s DUI accident, they may still conduct background checks to ensure drivers operating their vehicles have clean records and a safe history.
Rental companies that conduct background checks will reach out to the DMV that issued your license. If anything in your record conflicts with their policies, they have the right to deny your rental.
Protecting Your Access to Rental Cars After a DUI Arrest
Whether you are going on vacation or traveling for business, you want to be able to rent a car when you need one. A restricted or suspended license limits your access to rentals and brings unfortunate complications to your travel plans.
Protect your license and your access to rental cars by securing high-quality representation from an experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney following a DUI arrest. Your attorney will fight to have your charges and penalties reduced or completely dismissed.
Not every DUI arrest is executed lawfully or with proper care. After investigating your situation, your attorney may find grounds to argue:
- There was no true probable cause for pulling you over
- The “signs of intoxication” the officer recorded, such as watery or bloodshot eyes, were caused by allergies
- Field sobriety or breath tests were not properly administered
- A medical condition, such as diabetes, inflates your blood alcohol concentration
These or other defenses may apply to your case, and an experienced DUI attorney can use them to dismantle the prosecution’s allegations and protect you from penalties that disrupt your life, deplete your finances, and preclude you from renting a car or enjoying other conveniences.
Partner with a Skilled Los Angeles DUI Attorney Today
To avoid the spectrum of consequences and inconveniences that come with a DUI conviction, put your case in the hands of a strong legal defender. By partnering with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney promptly after your arrest, you are more likely to see your initial DMV suspension removed and have your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Get in touch with a Los Angeles DUI attorney today and receive a free and confidential consultation.