CT Supreme Court Upholds Ban on GPS-based Speeding Fines in Car Rentals
HARTFORD, CT – A New Haven, Conn., car rental company cannot fine drivers caught speeding by global positioning devices, the state Supreme Court ruled on April 4, according to Newsday.
In a 5-0 ruling, the high court rejected an appeal by American Car Rental, which operates Acme Rent-A-Car. The company had challenged a Department of Consumer Protection ruling that prohibited the company from levying the fines. The company used a global positioning system to assess $150 fines on customers who drove faster than 79 mph for more than two minutes.
Acme said the fines were to make up for wear and tear on cars that were driven at excessive speeds. However, a consumer protection hearing officer had determined that the wear and tear in such a case would be about 37 cents.
State hearings on Acme's policy began after customer James Turner complained that the company withdrew $450 from his checking account while he was on a trip to Virginia in a rented minivan. The company said Turner sped three times. According to the Consumer Protection Department, the company failed to warn customers of the fines they would face if the company's global positioning satellite system showed they were speeding.
The company also automatically debited consumers' bank accounts or credit cards without notice, the department said. The Consumer Protection Department concluded that Acme's policy violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The company continues to use the global positioning devices but has not charged fines for speeding since 2001, said Max Brunswick, Acme’s attorney.
The case is American Car Rental, Inc. vs. Commissioner of Consumer Protection, SC17241.