Working with North Carolina legislators, the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) was able to obtain revisions to a North Carolina bill (H.B. 656) that involves the impounding of a motor vehicle when a driver commits certain crimes. The bill would make vehicles that were used by defendants in certain felony cases subject to forfeiture.
According to ACRA, the problem with the original text of the bill was that the definition of an “innocent” rental company only pertained to vehicles driven by unauthorized drivers. Therefore, if an authorized car rental customer was caught driving with an illegitimate driver’s license or committed felony speeding to avoid arrest, the rental company would not benefit from the “innocent owner” exception and the vehicle would be subject to impound.
ACRA created a broader definition to better clarify an “innocent owner,” according to Sharon Faulkner, executive director of ACRA. Now a rental company will be considered an “innocent owner” if: The offense is performed by an unauthorized driver; the authorized driver performed an impaired driving crime but the rental company had no knowledge of the renter’s impaired driver’s license when the rental agreement took place; or if the authorized driver committed the speeding to elude arrest crime, but the rental agreement clearly prohibits use of the vehicle while committing a felony.
North Carolina rental companies should make sure that their rental agreements contain this prohibition, says ACRA.