I swear I've done a ton of searching, there is much to read about ZTLs online, with each post someone saying "this has been covered a million times" Even before I got the tickets I did my research, learned to drive stick shift, and dutifully navigated the rental back to the the Europ Car on the ZTL border. (Incredibly stressful experience for a vacation I would not recommend it). But the jokes on me because outside of historic Florence I circled a "public transportation" lane twice. Two $75 Auto Europ charges I paid, which too my dismay I learned a few days was simply their Admin charge for forwarding my info to the police. I now have two tickets for a total of ~$270 dollars. Here is where the internet is no help. I have yet to read anything online of anything outside of speculation of real consequences for a US Citizen not paying. The only tips are people who said they did pay out of piece or mind, or said they believe the car rental company would simply "hunt you down", even if you canceled your card. People seem to disagree on first, whether or not Florence police forces the rental agency to pay, and then B what steps the rental company takes to collect the money from you. If I close my credit card account, there is no "easy" way for them to force me to pay, unless they take me to court, or send it to collections to hurt my credit. Has anyone ever heard of this actually happening?
Yep!! The have been recent postings of us based collection agencies becoming involved. No follow up. But if a collection agency is in involved then I would be very concerned about them dinging my credit report. That could get very messy in a hurry.
If the Italian traffic authorities could collect fines from the rental agencies, don't you think they'd do so every time? It'd be far cheaper and easier for them than tracking down individual drivers. Fact is, the rental agency can't and won't pay your traffic fines. They have no legal obligation to do so. The violation is yours, not theirs. Your rental agreement will always have a paragraph stating that YOU, not they, are responsible for any traffic fines incurred during the rental period. If the agency paid the fines, they'd be abrogating your right to protest the ticket. They can't do that. Finally, they can't charge your credit card without your pre-authorization. And no rental agreement gives them that authority.
The rules here do not allow us to advise you on how to break the law or avoid the ramifications if you do. Most posters here, me included, feel you should pay for the traffic violations you incure. Just as if you travel to California and get dinged by a red light camera or get a speeding ticket in Ohio. Tickets are part of life driving in Italy and really ought to be added to the estimates for people planning to rent a car. The charges on your credit card, as you note, are only the administrative fees for the rental agency to pass along your info to the authorities. You agree to those when you sign the rental paperwork and cannot avoid them by canceling your card. But they do not pay the tickets and charge you. It's up to the authorities to get their tickets paid. Some posters here have reported being contacted by collection agencies. That hasn't been confirmed in concrete, but would not be something you want to happen. There have not been any other credible reports of ill-effects to Americans for skipping out on their fines.