Are There Penalty for Unauthorized Driver of Rental Car?

Patrick Oziegbe
Published On:

Do you need an additional driver to drive your rental car? You also need to know if there is any penalty from the rental car company if a person is not authorized to operate the rental car.

One of the frequent questions we often receive is, ‘Can someone else drive my rental car?’

Some readers are concerned about what insurance covers additional drivers and a myriad of queries about specific auto companies’ policies, such as Hertz’s additional driver fee policy, enterprise additional driver charges and many related questions.

Now we provide a solid response to the above; I also share specifics of what happens if an unauthorized driver drives a rental car and a few legal perspectives.

Are There Penalty For Unauthorized Drivers of Rental Vehicles?

Female driver shows a card
©Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

The costs and terms of adding another driver to the auto rental agreement vary by the rental car company. The fact is, you could get fined for violating an additional driver policy. 

Here are some of the policies of top rental car companies in the U.S. concerning additional drivers for their fleet of vehicle models.

  • Alamo rental car company

The daily charge for additional drivers using Alamo rental car company fleet stands at $15 for each vehicle nationwide except in New York, which is $5 per vehicle. 

Your spouse or partner will be exempted from these charges but, like all additional persons, must fulfill two conditions:

  • Meet the same age requirement.
  • Have a valid driver’s license.


Any extra driver seeking permission to drive must show up during vehicle rental.
Please comply with these terms to ensure that you can add another driver to the rental contract.

  • Avis 

Avis rental company allows you to add a maximum of two drivers to their contract, both being at least 25 years old and possessing a valid driver’s license. 

Partners, spouses, and family members (as well as employers and employees, provided it’s a business trip) are exempted from the $13 daily fee. It is worth noting that this price varies across U.S. states.

  • Budget

Budget categorizes additional-drivers with pre-authorization into three: spouse or partner of the customer, employer or employee, and companion driver with a disability. 

All three are exempted from the usual fee allotted to additional vehicle drivers. Additional are deemed “qualified” by being at least 25 years old and having a clean driving record, among other things.

These auto terms must be complied with, as driving without fulfilling them would be tantamount to stealing.

Rent a car signage
©Photo Credit: Deposit Photos
  • Enterprise

Additional operators are subject to a daily charge of $15 in other states and $5 in New York. They are also subject to other contractual conditions, such as meeting the age requirement and presenting a valid driver’s license.

 Spouses and partners of the renter are exempted from paying this fee. These contractual terms are to be adhered to as a violation would mean giving the company carte blanche to put you on their “Do Not Rent” list.

  • Hertz

One must fulfil specific terms and conditions to add a driver to a Hertz agreement. One such is to present a valid driver’s license at the same location. 

The other is to meet the same age requirement. Hertz also limits the number of extra drivers to that of available passenger seats in the rental car.

  • National

National requires additional operators to pay a daily fee of $15 except spouses, immediate family members, business associates, and customers’ driving companions. 

In line with this, they must also meet other terms and conditions, such as rental driving age (25 years) and possess a valid driver’s license. Penalties for violation of terms include blacklisting and civil suits.

Below is a tabular representation of top companies and their respective rates for additional pilots.

Company Additional Driver Fee
Alamo $10 daily (New York, $5)
Avis $13 daily 
Budget $13 daily ($65 maximum fee)
Enterprise $15 daily ($5 in New York)
Hertz $13.50 daily ($189 maximum)
National $12 daily

Can Someone Else Drive My Rental Car Enterprise?

Yes, Enterprise does allow another operator to drive their cars. But the additional authorized driver should:

  • Meet the rental-age requirements
  • Have a driver’s license
  • Meet with the company at the time of renting.

Moreover, Enterprise will charge you $5 per day in New York and $15 in other cities for every additional approved driver. 

The company only allows spouses or domestic partners to drive the car without being charged extra.

Also, suppose you are the renter’s business partner, commercial (corporate) or employee, or a fellow associate of Enterprise; in that case, you’ll be exempted from paying the additional fee, while the rest will be charged according to the rental contract.

Does My Insurance Cover Additional Driver on Car Renting?

Additional persons would each have full insurance coverage once included in the contract, indicating they have the right to operate the vehicle. 

However, it is essential to note that your car insurance covers you and you alone, as this differs from car sharing. 

Thus, a driver not included in the rental car policy would not be shielded by your insurance as he was not authorized to operate the vehicle in the first place. Some liabilities and benefits could be voided if an unauthorized driver uses the car.

What Happens If an Another Driver Drives Rental Cars?

If a driver is not presented and authorized by the company and drives the car, it will violate the contract. In other words, an unauthorized driver terminates the contract, and you may be liable to pay damages.

Thus, in case of an accident, the driver won’t be eligible for the company’s insurance benefits and will have to pay directly for the damages to the rental car. 

Moreover, the contract breach may also lead to any legal action in a district court (in some protracted cases in the high court) taken by the Enterprise against the renter if they fail to oblige by the contract.

Can I Rent a Car for a Different Person?

Yes, you can rent a car for someone, but not directly in their name. Most companies require you – the client, to be present at the time of the agreement.

If you are looking to rent a car for someone else and the individual is not present at the time of rental, you can add their name as an “additional driver” into the deal. 

As long as the additional driver has a valid driver’s license and is of the right age to rent a car, there shouldn’t be any problems along the way!

Are There Hertz Additional Driver Fines or Fees?

Is Hertz’s additional driver policy really strict? Cost-wise, certainly. Hertz charges the highest daily fee and a high limit of $189 for additional! Before the fee reduces, you’d need to rent a car for 14 days. 

Additionally, adding an extra driver should be easy if they meet Hertz’s requirements.

Can Additional Driver Return Rental Car?

Yes, they can return a rental car; even earlier return is allowed. While they may not be the actual renter, their names are included in the undertaking, so they could legally return the rental vehicle. 

In reality, anyone can return a rented vehicle as long as there is no damage. The only thing that matters is that the company got their car back.

The Policy of Driving Rental Car By Different Man – General Legal Perspective

Back view of couple in a car
©Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Most companies permit their clients to include additional identified pilots in a hire. In the United States, letting an unauthorized person drive is a violation of the rent agreement and a subsequent breach of its terms from a legal perspective. 

The reason is that the additional driver was not included in the rental document- and not what you paid for. In the eyes of the law, unauthorized drivers getting behind the wheel is tantamount to car theft.

Depending on the other road users’ insurance coverage, you may be liable for any damage to the rental car as the legal renter.

 Your written agreement is with the car agency, not your “friend.” Besides, you risk being blocklisted, which is certainly not worth it.

FAQ about unauthorized driver

Can I rent a car for someone else?

You cannot rent a car for someone else in your name, but you may be able to add an additional driver to your rental agreement. The person who has reserved the rental must be the one to pick it up, and they must provide a credit or debit card in their name.

However, some rental companies allow for certain people, such as spouses, partners, or employees, to drive the rented vehicle at no additional cost. It’s always a good idea to check with your rental company for their specific policies on adding additional drivers.

Rental car accident implications and contract

What happened with an unauthorized driver involved in an accident? In the case of an accident involving an additional driver behind the wheel, you, as the legal customer, will be personally liable for all damage repair costs, even if you paid for insurance through the rental car company.

What is Alamo extra driver cost vs Budget?

Alamo Vs Budget additional driver terms. The terms of both companies concerning extra pilots are similar. Both companies pre-authorize spouses, immediate family members, and employer/employees as additional, provided they meet the usual age requirement and present a valid driver’s license.

The Budget only allows two extra operators outside these categories. The major difference is in price, as Budget charges a daily fee of $13, with a maximum of $65, whereas Alamo charges $15.

Can a different fellow drive my rental car, Budget?

Yes, Budget does allow someone else to drive, but the driver must be authorized by the company prior, have a driver’s license, and meet the required age. Moreover, you’ll be charged extra for the additional driver.

Any additional operator Budget has not authorized is not allowed to drive the car, and if they do, it will be considered a breach.

Which car-company does not charge for additional drivers?

Alamo, Enterprise, Avis, Budget, National, and Fox are some companies that do not charge additional driver’s fees for domestic partners and spouses of the customer. However, persons who fall outside the category will also be charged for it.

Can I always avoid car rental additional driver fees?

It is possible to avoid additional driver fees. Begin by checking the state legislation. California forbids any additional driver fee, and states like Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New York, and Texas make charging more for a spouse illegal.

Furthermore, check the company policies, as most car companies have policies that exclude specific categories of additionals from payment. These categories include the renter’s spouse, family member, employer/employee, and disability driver.

Summary of unauthorized driving of rental car!

Although adding an extra driver to a rental car is not illegal, adding an unauthorized person to operate the vehicle is considered illegal by any rental car company. 

Consider all the options above before adding an extra driver to drive your rented car to save money, avoid legal trouble, and still get the necessary coverage.


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