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High Court Rules Rental Agency Cannot Use GPS to Fine Speeders

April 14, 2005

Evidence of speeding taken from vehicle tracking devices cannot be used by rental car companies to fine customers, the Supreme Court said earlier this month.The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the findings of the Connecticut state Department of Consumer Protection that a New Haven car agency could not levy a $150 penalty per speeding violation, according to an April 5 report in the Hartford Courant.The global position systems installed in all of Acme's rental cars notified the agency any time a car was driven at 80 mph or more for two minutes or longer. For each occurrence, the car agency charged the patron $150, usually levied immediately against whatever credit or debit card they had used to secure the rental.The rental agency contended that the fee was for excessive wear on the vehicle incurred when driven at a high speed. The court disagreed. "The $150 collected by [American Rental] was more than 400 times the potential damage incurred," Justice David M. Borden wrote. "Using the [consumer department] hearing officer's calculation, a customer would have to travel more than 1,070 miles at high speeds, without decelerating below 80 miles per hour, to cause $150 of excess wear on the vehicle."Court documents show that Acme began using GPS to track speeding in October 2000. From October to December of 2000, those who rented cars in 32 of 400 contracts written were charged the speeding fee. In all, 76 Acme patrons paid in excess of $22,000 in fees that ranged from $150 to $750 per driver.
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