7Investigates: Rental companies allowing unlicensed drivers behind the wheel

DORCHESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - There may be some dangerous rentals on the road due in part to a loophole that keeps rental companies from checking the validity of a driver’s license.

Paul Mathurin was the victim of just such a driver and said he will not forget that rainy March night in Dorchester when he was hit head-on by a rental truck.

“Probably about five minutes after being on Washington Street, everything just went to black,” he said.

The force of the collision left him unconscious. First responders arriving at the scene pulled him from the vehicle and transported him to a hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

“I was just thankful to God I was alive,” Mathurin said. “I was like really sore, I couldn’t really sit up, I couldn’t see. I was very dizzy.”

He later learned from Boston Police that the rental truck driver should never have been behind the wheel in the first place. She was operating the vehicle on a suspended license.

The rental truck company said that if a customer walks in with a state-issued driver’s license, they have no way of knowing if that license is valid.

The company issued a statement reading:

“The burden falls to the state with regards to suspended licenses… If we were to overlook the state’s burden and still run every customer’s license against a status-check database, it would have to be done through a state-approved vendor, and we would encounter third-party privacy concerns.”

“It’s shocking,” Mathurin said. “You never want to hear that a company is allowing people to take something without the right credentials.”

7Investigates contacted the Registry of Motor Vehicles regarding the incident and they also issued a statement in which a representative said the company could have easily checked the status of the license.

“The RMV partners with multiple third-party service providers who in turn contract with rental vendors, to verify and make available information about driver statuses and records history,” the spokesperson said.

Right now, there is no law forcing rental companies to do this.

State Senator Michael Moore said he was shocked to learn there was nothing on the books to prevent this from happening. He is working with the RMV to require all rental companies to check licenses as soon as possible.

The accident caused Mathurin a great deal of pain however, he said he harbors no ill will toward the woman who hit him.

“The person that caused the accident, I hope she’s safe. Even though she caused a large mess. That’s all I want to say,” he said.

The RMV is contacting the company to explain how it can check licenses in an accurate and timely manner.

 

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