A driver not listed on a rental agreement is not breaking the law for using a car “without authority,” thereby not justifying the arrest of the driver, search of the car, and later, the car’s impoundment.
Commonwealth v. Campbell, 2016 BL 324143, Mass., No. SJC-11980, 9/30/16.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a driver not listed on a rental car’s agreement is not breaking the law for driving a car “without authority.” The court stated, “A renter's decision to allow a person who is not a permitted driver according to the rental agreement to drive a rental vehicle may be a breach of that agreement, but it does not also result in a violation of criminal law.”
It should also be noted that the court did not address whether the unlisted driver had an expectation of privacy in the rental car. This issue faces a circuit split that has been unresolved by the Supreme Court. In the Tenth Circuit, however, a driver whose name is not listed on a rental car agreement cannot challenge a police search on constitutional grounds, even when a listed driver gives the person permission to use the car.