InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


Rental car driver ticketed for expired tags, results in license suspension

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-27 06:59:46-05

BALTIMORE — When renting a car, Jessica Bell knew to check for scratches and dents, but she didn’t think she’d need to check the expiration dates on the license plate.

“It was back in November of last year, I believe,” said Bell who rented a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car to pick up her cousin in West Virginia.

While driving through Frederick, a police officer pulled her over.

“The cop had informed me that the tags on the car were expired, and I let him know it was a rental and I was like, I had no idea, I’m sorry it’s a rental and he said, he still had to give me a ticket because I’m the one driving the vehicle,” Bell said.

The next morning, Bell called the Enterprise location in Essex and spoke with a manager.

“He said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it, drop the keys and the ticket in the drop box together when you leave the car back. We’ll take care of it, don’t worry about it.’ So, I did exactly that and figured they’re a business, they’ll take care of it, they’re not going to, you know, ignore this, so I went about my business and a couple months later, I got something in the mail saying my license is going to be suspended if this ticket doesn’t get paid. I’m like the only ticket I’ve gotten is that rental, what’re they talking about?” Bell recalled.

She then called Enterprise corporate. Bell said they apologized again and told her it’d be taken care of.

“Couple months later, I get pulled over driving from one store to another and the cop told me my license was suspended,” said Bell.

This was on March 29, 2022, months after she rented the car and reported the ticket to Enterprise.

“And then, I apparently got a court date that I didn’t get in the mail, so I had missed that and got a failure to appear and got a warrant,” said Bell.

This series of events put Bell in legal jeopardy. To help sort it out, she hired an attorney.

“The lawyer alone was around $1,500. All the fees, all the court costs, I probably put out about $3,000 altogether,” said Bell.

And since late March, Bell hasn’t had a license.

“While I was working, my boss was picking me up every day and dropping me off so I could get to and from work. I was having people help me out with rides back and forth, stuff like that,” said Bell.

Bell called Enterprise many times and had several email exchanges in March without resolution.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii contacted Enterprise in November. On November 22, a spokesperson wrote:

“We are working aggressively to investigate and resolve this issue, and we apologize to Ms. Bell for the hardship this has caused. We strive to make every customer experience the best it can be and are working to bring this issue to a satisfactory resolution.”

A month later, the spokesperson confirmed they’re still working with Bell to resolve the issue.

According to the Maryland MVA, the registrations for 389 vehicles in the Maryland Enterprise fleet with expirations on or after September 1, 2021 were renewed after their expiration date. Currently, Enterprise has 38,188 active vehicle registrations with the use type as rental.

Bell’s rental was registered in Virginia. The tags expired on September 30, 2021. She received the ticket on November 19, 2021.

“You check for dings and dents and bumps and scratches, you don’t check for dead tags or plates or something,” said Bell.

This hard lesson is something Bell wants to warn other renters to do.

Bell has a court date on January 3, where she’s hoping she can finally clear her record and move past this.

The Maryland MVA encourages all consumers to review their rental contract and check the vehicle's tags before leaving the rental lot.

Click here for additional tips on how to avoid fees when renting a car.

Click here to file any business complaints with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.