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If you are 25 years of age and behind the wheel of a rental car, you may find yourself in trouble. Whether you’re not allowed to drive the rental car or simply failed to notify the company of your intent to drive the vehicle, you could land in hot water if you don’t follow the rules.

It isn’t illegal to drive a rental car under the age of 25. If you’re not an authorized driver or nominated secondary driver on the rental agreement, you are liable for any damages incurred while you were driving. Paying the additional fees for being a younger driver is worth it to prevent this.

What happens if you get caught driving a rental car under 25? And what should you do to prevent trouble while hiring a car at an age younger than this? Let’s unpack these commonly asked questions. 

What Happens If You Get Caught Driving A Rental car Under 25?

Getting caught driving a rental under the age of 25 doesn’t have to be problematic in and of itself. Depending on which agency you rent with, what state you’re in, and whether you’re a licensed driver with insurance, you may actually have no problem at all.

But there are still various reasons you could find yourself in hot water. Here are some situations about driving a rental under the age of 25 that could have serious repercussions:

  1. You shouldn’t be driving at all: Is there some reason you shouldn’t be driving? If you’re concerned about getting caught because you aren’t licensed or aren’t capable of driving, you will be breaking the law by driving any vehicle.
  2. You shouldn’t be driving a rental car because the rental company doesn’t know about you: Regardless of your age, if you are not the authorized driver or nominated secondary driver, you will be liable for any costs incurred should something go wrong with you behind the wheel.
  3. You shouldn’t be driving a hired vehicle because you’re under the age of 25: Legislation in the USA ensures that you cannot be discriminated against for your age. However, while you can still hire a car under the age of 25, there are specific rules and restrictions stipulated by the agency. If your name is on the contract and you’ve paid the required fees, you have nothing to worry about – as long as you stick to the rules set out by the company.
  4. You’ve used fake credentials to rent a car because you’re under the minimum age: This constitutes breaking the law. While the rental company will certainly hold you responsible for any damages, you can also be prosecuted.
  5. You’re caught breaking the law: Whether your name is on the contract or not, if you’re breaking the law by speeding, driving recklessly, driving under the influence, or driving without a valid license, you will be prosecuted.

What’s Wrong With Driving A Rental Under 25? 

In the United States, the majority of car rental agencies either require additional coverage for drivers under the age of 25 or have restrictions on the type of cars they make available to younger renters. And, as long as you are legally allowed to drive, it just costs you more.

If you are not the allocated driver, or you haven’t been added to the rental agreement as an additional driver, you could find yourself in a tight spot should something go wrong.

As careful as you want to be, a driver isn’t always responsible for incidents and accidents on the road. Say someone drives into you or another driver causes an accident, and you happen to be behind the wheel; if you aren’t allowed to be driving the rental car, whether because of your age or because you weren’t declared a driver, there will be consequences.

Rental companies require that you provide your information, driver’s license, and proof of insurance when you hire a vehicle from them. This covers you in the event of liability, and if you aren’t a nominated driver, it means you will not be covered should something go wrong.

Possible Outcomes To Being Caught Driving A Rental Under 25

Now that I have unpacked why it is essential to follow the rules stipulated by the car hire company, here are some possible consequences of being caught driving a rental car under the age of 25, assuming you shouldn’t be:

  • You won’t be covered for insurance: Should there be an accident or incident that requires recovery and repair of the vehicle, you will be liable for all costs involved, including any third parties that may be affected.
  • You could be in trouble with the law: Should the above scenario occur, you would be driving uninsured, which is not legal in the USA. Additionally, if you’re caught without a license or with a fake license, naturally, that implies a charge will be laid against you. 
  • You could be blocked: Should a car hire agency feel that you took advantage of their system, lied to them, or illegally drove their vehicle, they could attempt to prevent you from being able to rent a car from any agency again. 

How To Prevent Issues With Driving A Rental At The Age of 25

While the consequences of illegally driving a rental car are severe, you shouldn’t be in a situation where this is a concern to begin with. The best advice to follow when driving a rental car under the age of 25 is the following: 

  • Shop around: Not all agencies have issues with younger drivers. Find a rental agency that doesn’t have as many restrictions on drivers under the age of 25; college towns will often cater to younger markets, so start there.
  • Be open and honest: Disclose your age and be upfront – hiding things and trying to pull one over on the agency will count against you if something terrible should happen.
  • Ask about additional driver’s fees being waived if the renter’s partner, companion, or significant other wants to drive the vehicle – some agencies make provision for this, should the main driver be over 25. 
  • Pay the fees: Whether you pay additional fees for being under 25 or other fees for being a secondary authorized driver, just pay up. This covers you if something bad does happen.
  • Read the fine print: Familiarize yourself with any rules and regulations that may come with your contract regarding being a driver under the age of 25. Stick to it once you know what you are and aren’t allowed to do. 

Conclusion

It may seem like a small risk to simply slip in behind the wheel of a rental that you shouldn’t be driving – especially if you’re a confident and capable driver. The reality, however, is that you have no control over incidents caused by other drivers on the road, and when something goes wrong, it’s too late to go back. 

While you won’t necessarily have a criminal record for getting caught driving a rental car under 25 years old, you could find yourself liable for thousands of dollars if you’ve breached the rental agreement. The bottom line is simple: Never drive a rental car if you are not an authorized driver on the rental contract. 

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