What do you do if your rental car smells like weed? There are some stinky situations that even the most well-traveled tourist can get caught up in on the road. Some of the incidents involving marijuana, or more specifically, the lingering odor of high times past, could bring down some unwanted heat at the rental car agency.
Not even rental car companies in legal states are anywhere close to cool with a client dropping off a car that reeks of weed. In some cases, returning a vehicle that smells as though it was just used in a wild-eyed dab stunt in Cheech & Chong’s “Up In Smoke” reboot can come with fines that are both an unexpected and expensive. So if your rental car smells like weed, you might want to pay attention.
My Rental Car Smells Like Weed Because of the Last Customer
There are times when a rental car smells like weed because the last driver hot boxed like a champ. It is acceptable to salute this stoned soldier for their ability to make a Hyundai smell like the shirt you wore to a Pantera concert back in 1994. But it is still not an ideal situation. The lingering odor of marijuana could cause trouble with law enforcement.
In areas of prohibition, a cop has probable cause to search a vehicle based on the smell of marijuana alone. Cruising the streets of Anytown, Kentucky with lingering weed odors could cost more than a speeding ticket if pulled over.
The state of affairs could become even worse if there is, in fact, marijuana in the vehicle. Good luck talking your way out of that one. Even the smallest amount of pot on the driver or the passengers will likely bring on a wealth of problems.
You will have to find someone to bail you out of jail. You’ll also have to figure out how to get the rental car out of impound.
Fortunately, unless the vehicle is key evidence in a crime, law enforcement cannot seize a rental car. Rental car companies cannot be punished for the sins of their drivers.
Rental Car Hassles in Legal States
Even in legal states, the odor of marijuana can bring down some unwanted heat with the law. A cop in Colorado could use the scent as reason to conduct a field sobriety test. If the driver has smoked marijuana in the past month, he or she could be taken to jail on a Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) charge. This, too, would result in the rented vehicle being impounded.
The best course of action when getting into a rental car that already smells of marijuana is to report it immediately to the rental agent on duty. Sure, it’s a hassle. But it will ensure you drive away in a clean rental car (one that hopefully doesn’t reek of weed) and it eliminates the potential for incurring extra charges.
If the rental company believes you are responsible for the marijuana odor, it can (and will) slap you with a cleaning fee between $100 and $250. Not only does complaining do away with this possibility, it could also keep you out of jail.
My Rental Car Smells Like Weed Because I Got High As Hell on Vacation
We’ve all been there. You take a long road trip in a rental car and smoke copious amounts of the herb during the journey. The thought never once crosses your mind that the “no smoking” decal on the dashboard has anything to do with your marijuana consumption.
After all, smoking weed is nothing like cigarettes. You smoke pot in your house all of the time, but you would never allow anyone to fire up a Marlboro. But now that you’re on you are about to return the car to the rental agency, you start to freak out a little. What if the drop-off attendant smells marijuana?
The good news is marijuana smoke is different than burn that comes from cigarettes. The odor of marijuana doesn’t linger in the same way. Even if the attendant at the rental agency has the nose of a drug-sniffing dog, as long as there are no roaches in the ashtray, no ashes in the floorboard or in the seats, you will likely make it out of the situation unscathed.
But it is important to be mindful of circumstances that can increase the risk of lingering pot odors. For example: hot-boxing a rental car is never recommended. Keep the vents on and the windows cracked. This will pump all of the smoke out before it has a chance to settle. If all else fails, Ozium or some other reputable odor elimination spray might do the trick. Just be sure to clean the car before taking it back.
Final Hit: My Rental Car Smells Like Weed… Now What?
The most important detail to remember in any scenario involving a rental car that reeks of weed is you have to protect yourself. The rental agency will not bust you on this costly offense right away.
It could take weeks before you figure out that the company is charging you a cleanup fee for allegedly smoking weed.
Of course, it will come at a time when you cannot afford it—when your bank account is down to the last few hundred bucks or less. This inconvenience will come to your attention while trying to buy groceries for your family. The checkout clerk will say,”your card’s been declined,” and you’ll be informed that there are overdraft fees to contend with.
Indeed, getting popped for smoking weed in a rental car can be quite a mess. So please take precautions.
If possible, it is much better to rent a car with a major credit card rather than a bank-issued debit. This way, if a rental company does try to slap you with smoking fines for marijuana, it will be easier to dispute the charges. Debit cards do not carry the same protections.
Also, be sure not to leave any marijuana behind. Although this oversight is not a big deal in legal states, it could cause trouble with law enforcement in areas of prohibition.
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