New Hampshire Jails 68-Year-Old Man For Paying Toll With Tokens

Meet Thomas Jensen. The state that boasts “Live Free Or Die” jailed him for three days for trying to pay a fifty-cent toll with two tokens. Jensen believes the tokens represent a contract with New Hampshire that was illegally violated last January when the state began exclusively using E-Z Pass. A toll worker refused to accept the tokens and directed Jensen to a state tropper, who issued a citation for theft of services. A judge gave Jensen three choices: pay a $150 fine, perform community service, or spend three days in jail. Jensen chose jail.

Jensen never told his wife he was in jail. Beverly Jensen said she only found out when asked by a television news reporter.

After being set free Thursday, Jensen said he’s considering a lawsuit. He said the state should just accept tokens until they’re all used up.

”I just get offended by people trying to do me wrong,” he said. ”They stole the value of these tokens from me.”

Braintree man jailed over 50¢ [The Patriot Ledger]

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  1. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Shouldn’t they have had some sort of token buy-back program where you could exchange them for EZPass credit? If they didn’t, I can see why this guy was irate; if they did, he needs to pay better attention.

  2. cde says:

    Given the state of our legal system, his appeal will either 1) be ignored, or 2) the original ruling upheld. But, hopefully and against all odds, if he wins, I see this becoming case law against companies who try to make giftcards expire after a certain amount of time.

  3. hills says:

    this guy is my hero

  4. lestat730 says:

    Is he incredibly courageous and strong for standing up for himself, or incredibly stupid for choosing 3 days in jail over a measly 50 cents? While I can understand being upset over the discontinuation of the tokens, personally I would have just paid the 50 cents and then formally make a complaint about the issue later on.

  5. loueloui says:

    Kudos to him. Just because the state decides that they’re going to change the rules about HOW you pay a tax shouldn’t mean that whatever tax you had already paid (i.e. buying those tokens) is invalid.

    I don’t know why it is that states in New England seem to think very little of trampling all over their citizens’ rights, like they’re some kind of afterthought, not even worthy of consideration.

    Someone needs to remind these bureaucrats that they serve at the pleasure of, and for the benefit of, the people at large.

  6. shadowsurfr1 says:

    I’m a driver from NH and if I recall correctly, people were given a fair warning once the EZPass system was announced. I’d just buy an EZPass and put that into my car and try to get some kind of value for the tokens.

  7. djanes1 says:

    I heard that this guy also didn’t show his reciept for the tokens to the security guard…

  8. fakezen says:

    How much did it cost the state/county to put him in jail for 3 days? Probably significantly more than 50 cents.

    Also, if you get sent to jail for three days, maybe you should let your wife know so she doesn’t think you’re dead. Just common courtesy.

  9. bohemian says:

    The state should be trading those old tokens for cash. If they swapped them for coin and let the guy pay with said coin there would not have been a problem.
    I really loathe the easy pass systems. When we traveled through Chicago last summer it was frequently hard to get over to the cash lanes. The cash lanes are usually on one end and sometimes hard to cross traffic to get to. At one point we were forced through the ezpass lane. I probably have a warrant for my arrest or something in IL now.

  10. d0x says:

    @shadowsurfr1: Yes, there was at the very least 6 months warning, there was signs at all tolls, there was articles in papers and it was on the news. Even after they changed to EZ Pass they still took tokens for another 3 months.

    This guy is a cheap moron, if everyone else can follow this simple rule why cant he?

    I can see if it was like the day after the change went into effect or if they gave no warning but neither is the case.

    They stopped taking tokens like a year ago!

  11. zolielo says:

    Ah, civil disobedience at its best if there war no trade in period. If there was an exchange time frame for the tokens then it was asinine.

  12. GearheadGeek says:

    There it is, right there on the NH DoT web page about EasyPass: “4. NH Turnpike Tokens are no longer accepted as a valid form of toll fare payment. There is no token redemption program.”

    [www.nh.gov]

    One assumes they used to sell these tokens, and probably offered some sort of discount if you bought a larger batch of tokens at once. They probably sold the tokens as a way to make it harder for their own employees to steal from them rather than as any sort of convenience to motorists, since I don’t see how the tokens are more convenient than change that’s useful elsewhere. I wish the gentleman luck. The post office doesn’t make old first class stamps worthless when they raise the rate, they just make you buy additional postage or BRING THE OLD ONES IN for a refund. Not rocket science.

  13. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @GearheadGeek: “There is no token redemption program.”

    That’s ridiculous. What did they expect someone to do who had a big bag of tokens — try to use them all before the deadline? Sell them on eBay? Throw them in a lake?

    Give ‘em hell, Mr. Jensen.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    Or he could have been a REAL American and sell ‘em for $3.50 each + $1.65 shipping on EBay:
    [cgi.ebay.com]

    Certainly a better “investment” than 3 nights in jail or a $0.50 toll.

  15. SimonSwegles says:

    @d0x: At issue is not whether there was fair warning. That is not much of a consumer issue. The consumer issue is that the state sold the toll “currency” to the public for their hard currency, and then subsequently devalued all remaining toll “currency”, pocketing any remaining cash value to the public consumer’s detriment.

  16. andrewsmash says:

    This sounds like someone trying to use an expired gift certificate. Yes, money was spent, but since he didn’t use it in the time period specified, he lost out. The state should have had a buy back program, but people could have petitioned for that. Also, he got arrested by a state trooper – in my experience, staties are the most mellow of all the varieties of cop. I am willing to bet Jensen was a horrendous pain in the ass (I mean, c’mon, call your wife at least.) The idea that someone who goes nuclear just cause he can’t get his way is a hero is just sad.

  17. edrebber says:

    Thomans Jansen – 3 days in jail
    Michael Nifong – 1 day in jail.

  18. killavanilla says:

    @loueloui:
    Except this isn’t a tax, it’s a toll.
    Tollway’s are state owned, user paid for services, not taxes. Most states have/had some sort of compensation plan to refund or credit token amounts.
    And again, this is silly. Pay the 50 cents, and take it up with the toll authority later.
    Better to file a class action than to get arrested and charged, then convicted, then have to appeal.
    Let’s see – 3 days in jail or 50 cents? You figure it out…

  19. killavanilla says:

    Fifty cents.
    This putz spent 3 days in jail over 50 cents.
    I guarantee the trooper said something to him like:
    ST”Pay the fifty cent toll or I HAVE to write you a ticket for theft of services.”
    Putz”No! I bought these tokens and I’m a gonna use them!”
    ST” Seriously. If you don’t pay the fifty cents, I HAVE to do something”
    Putz”I don’t care. Get off my lawn!”
    ST”Okay, you now have two choices – pay the fine of $150 or spend three nights in jail.”
    Putz “Damn hippies. I’ll spend the time in jail, then sue you!”
    ST “You have the right to remain silent…”
    What does it tell you that this moron didn’t bother to tell his wife where he was? My guess is that he’s just happy to be out of the house!
    Next time, pay the 50 cents.
    Civil disobedience, which I’m sure thats what some of you will call it, resulted in 3 days in jail, a pissed off wife who didn’t know where he was, and the threat of having to pay thousands to sue the toll authority over a decision they implemented in January. You had 9 months to make a stink about it and then decided to bring back your days as a lost soul hippie whiner.
    Good for you. Way to be an example for your grandkids. Lesson learned – if you don’t like something, act like an ass about it even if it means having to spend three days in a stinky, sweaty jail with rapists, burglers, muggers, and petty criminals. What fun!

  20. EtherealStrife says:

    @andrewsmash: In my state (ca) there’s no such thing as an expired gift certificate. Expiring something you exchanged money for is fraud. Same as what New Hampshire is doing to this guy. Can anyone dig up New Hampshire’s laws pertaining to the value of old forms of currency and gift certificates/cards?

    Good on this guy for sticking it to these pricks. As fakezen said, it cost way more to hold him in jail than $0.50. And yes, please use your call to contact your wife. Or ask someone at booking and/or jail to contact her.

    So how do the tolls work out there? Here we have FasTrak toll roads which separates into two at every toll point, one is nonstop if you have the FasTrak rfid unit, the other is a collection of manned stations for folks who want to pay cash. The other side of the coin is the 91 Express (replaces carpool on freeway), which REQUIRES FasTrak transponders. Because there are no tollbooths. Seems like if they have the E-ZPass setup and still have a toll operator, it shouldn’t be a problem taking the tokens. If you take currency via a manned station then, well, hello buddy here it is.

  21. redknight says:

    I think it’s fair to say it cost the state of New Hampshire more than fifty cents to jail Mr. Jansen for three days.

    Of course, it cost Jansen more. Maybe both he and New Hampshire should each be less stubborn.

  22. EtherealStrife says:

    @killavanilla: FTFA: “He said the jail was a sparkling new facility, that the food was better than expected, and that the mattress was painfully thin. He said he spent three days sitting around talking with the other inmates – some who were in there for assaulting a police office, others for immigration violations.”

    Perhaps you confused jail and prison, kv.

  23. @lestat730:

    By the time he was offered three days in jail it was already too late to pay the 50 cents.

  24. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Welcome to Consumerist, eh? This guy stands up for something he feels strongly about, and he’s the asshole.
    Yes, you could argue they gave reasonable warning that the tokens would expire, but still they should have had some sort of buy-back before the expiration.

  25. maevro says:

    I don’t know how NH jails compare to NYS jails but here he would be out after 1 night with a 3 day sentence.
    Maybe he just wanted to get away from his wife and tossed his EZ Pass in the garbage before he got into the car.

  26. thepounder says:

    Wow… “Live Free or Die” my ass. I’m with Mr. Jensen. From the sounds of it the state simply said “FU!” as to paying people back for leftover tokens.
    I’m so glad I don’t live in the Northeast anymore… In my home state (MA) there’s toll roads popping up all over… At least where I live now in TX I have a choice of whether or not I feel I need to use a toll road. If I feel like avoiding it to get to Austin it doesn’t take me any longer than the folks paying to use the toll roads.

    Mr. Jensen’s obviously a principled man, and I applaud him for standing up for what he believes is right. Plus, he got “three hots and a cot” for each of his days in jail… for free. (well, free to him anyway)

  27. Sudonum says:

    I tried commenting on this story earlier, but couldn’t log in. I read it this morning and thought about how long it would take for a flame war to start between the “50 cents to stay out of jail!” and the “standing up for his rights” crowds.

    What I probably would have done, if I hadn’t been able to use all my tokens by the deadline, is paid the 50 cents and then raised hell with my local representative about getting a refund for whatever tokens I had left.

    Having spent a weekend in jail in my “misspent youth” I will do just about anything to avoid going back. Even a jail as nice as the one he describes.

  28. andrewsmash says:

    @EtherealStrife: It maybe fraud in California, but it stands as a contract in Oregon. It says ‘I will pay in advance in order to take advantage of a discount or in order to transfer a service for which I have paid to someone else.’ It isn’t a gift card which is similar to money, but with limitations on where it can be spent. Most of them say that they have no cash value, and if you buy something that says it will expire by a certain date, and you don’t use it, then it’s your loss. It would be like taking back expired milk because you didn’t drink it before it went bad. The fault lies with the consumer, not the provider.

  29. rten says:

    In Pennsylvania when they phased out the tokens, you could exchange them for cash. Unless the roll of tokens said “NO CASH VALUE”, then give a refund of un-used tokens or accept them. The state made the willful choice to phase out a system they created.

    You can contact the New Hampshire Turnpike at 603-485-3806.

    You can contact the Rochester District Court at 603-332-3516.

  30. d0x says:

    @SimonSwegles: I understand that but this guy had over a year to get rid of his tokens, whether by use or selling them off to someone.

    I’d understand the issue if he wasnt given fair warning but…lets be honest here, the guy could easily have found someone to buy a few tokens off him.

    Also if you read the old website it said the tokens had no value nor was a claim of value ever made so there would be no redemption plan regardless.

    If this guy had half a brain he would have just gone through a exact change lane and threw the tokens in the basket, he would have been let through just fine with no ticket, jail time or anything.

    He knew damn well what he was doing which is why he spent time in jail over 50 cents. He wanted the attention.

  31. rten says:

    The state made the willful choice to phase out a system they created, with an unacceptable exit plan, other than void all the rights of passage they made with citizens past a certain date.

    Pennsylvania bought back un-used tokens for cash during phase out. New Hampshire has an obligation to make whole on the tokens they created.

    You can contact the New Hampshire Turnpike at 603-485-3806.

    You can contact the Rochester District Court at 603-332-3516.

  32. erratapage says:

    Sounds like a governmental “taking” to me. I think the public is due just compensation for their unused tokens.

    And while I wouldn’t want to play scrabble with this guy, I give him props for fighting. I hope he appeals! Of course, there is a major problem with his case–he could have sued civilly for the taking and paid the toll in cash. While this is a great way to get publicity for the cause, I’m pretty sure that the issue would be better resolved by a class action lawsuit. I wonder how many unused tokens are out there, anyway….

  33. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    What ever happened to “legal tender for all debts public and private”?

  34. azntg says:

    The guy is certainly a very stubborn man, don’t think it was worth it to the State of New Hampshire to jail him for 3 days and wasn’t worth it for the man to fight over 50 cents.

    But if you guys read the Patriot Ledger article, the man’s NOT a resident of New Hampshire! He’s from Braintree, MA (near Boston)! Last time I checked, while states might alert the residents of its state about phasing out of a method of payment, the guy really had no way of finding out (perhaps except for coincidence) that NH has phased out tokens.

  35. killavanilla says:

    @doctor_cos:
    “Welcome to Consumerist, eh? This guy stands up for something he feels strongly about, and he’s the asshole.”

    Yeah. That’s sort of the point that many of you seem to miss about the consumerist site. It’s not JUST about standing up for what you believe in, but more aptly put it is about getting your problem resolved efficiently and quickly.
    See, had he contacted consumerist.com BEFORE going to jail over 50 cents, they likely would have advised him to pay the 50 cents and take it up with an official at a later date.
    THAT’s why he’s an ass. His ‘protest’ ended up with him in jail for 3 days.
    Standing up for what you believe in is fine, doing it with your brain instead of your heart is what they call ‘being smart’.

  36. ju-ju-eyeball says:

    GOVT: You must use EZ Tag.
    CITIZEN: But what about these tokens you sold me?
    GOVT: Too bad, so sad, they are worth nothing!
    CITIZEN: So you stole my money?
    GOVT: Of course! What are you going to do about it? Take up arms and throw us out? Screw you!

    Government just doesn’t care anymore…

  37. etinterrapax says:

    I grew up in New Hampshire and still travel there frequently, and can vouch that people are very sore about the lack of a redemption program. The state essentially stole a great deal of money from people when they discontinued the token program, which had been in place for decades. It would have been nothing to them to continue accepting tokens until they were all redeemed. Most of the tollbooths were exact-change-only, involving no personnel increases or added costs (since they had already been processing tokens). I have nothing against EZ-Pass or FastLane (in MA), and it’s sure made the Hampton tolls less congested, but this guy soaking the state for three days’ room and board on principle is a kind of civil disobedience I can get behind. It’s also the kind that’s made New Hampshire the place it is since its first settlement. Kudos to you guys for giving him some national exposure.

  38. spinachdip says:

    @killavanilla: But one could just as easily argue that he’s an effective consumerist because he gave his legs to his story by taking the 3 days over the fine or community service.

    Yeah, it’s a bit much for 50 cents, or even the $150 fine, but what he wanted to do was to make a point, and that’s exactly what he got. Plus, he’s a retiree, so he didn’t lose any wages by spending 3 days locked up.

  39. killavanilla says:

    @spinachdip:
    Listen, you can make all the excuses for why this guy is a hero you want.
    That’s cool if you think he accomplished more by going to jail for 3 days.
    Personally? I think he wasted 3 days.
    He could have easily spent that time talking to his local government representative, his governor, his state legislators and the media about his story. That could have given ‘legs’ to his story too.
    Just think, we could be talking about the kick ass consumer who took his fight to his state and got things changed for the better.
    Or we could be talking about the guy who exposed his governments lack of concern over his expired for 9 months tokens.
    But to be saying that he did any good whatsoever by spending 3 days in jail over 50 cents just doesn’t wash with me.
    There are plenty of other things that could have been done. Having the state pay for three days of incarceration over two tokens worth 50 cents to me, seems like a complete waste of government resources over what amounts to nothing.
    He COULD have appealed to his government, maybe started some grassroots campaign, and perhaps caused the state government to change their practices. As it is, all he did was allow a state to collect his debt to them over three days of the joy of jail.
    I get it. He cares alot about his 50 cents. Personally, I think he could have done more by paying the 50 cents and actually talking to someone.
    I’m sorry, but three days in jail isn’t worth it. $150 isn’t worth it. 50 cents? Yeah. That’s worth it. Think about it – spend three days in jail or pay 50 cents…
    What would a smart person do?
    50 cents is the answer.
    Bring it to your governor, get things changed, make a media stink. Go to jail? No freaking way….

  40. Antediluvian says:

    @GearheadGeek: the tokens WERE sold as a convenience to locals and commuters as a trade-off for implementing tolls. The tokens were half-price, but you had to spend $5 for a roll of 40 (1 token = 25 cents of toll, but cost 12.5 cents). I’ve never heard of employee theft reduction as a benefit of them.

    @d0x: depending on where he was, there are no unstaffed “exact change” lanes anymore. On I-95 the cash lanes are all staffed. Only the tiny little podunk toll plazas might still have exact change baskets. And I doubt very much those still accept tokens, so he’d be in the same situation anyway.

    @Applekid: The tokens aren’t legal tender, so the phrase doesn’t count. The tokens aren’t REQUIRED to use the toll roads; they are a discount program.

    @thepounder: What the heck do you mean there are new toll roads “popping up” in Mass.? There’s serious talk of removing the tolls from (at least part of) the Turnpike, and otherwise, the only tolls are on one bridge and two tunnels.

    ——-

    Also the token program was a FANTASTIC bargain for those who took advantage of it — half-price tolls! And NH did away with discounts when they went to EZPass.

  41. spinachdip says:

    @killavanilla: My last comment was meant mostly to be a devil’s advocate, not to disagree with you.

    My point is that, while you may not think it’s worth it to spend 3 days locked up to make a point, it was worth it to him, and as far as this story goes, that’s all that matters.

    And while there are ways to make a stink without doing prison time, I’m not sure appealing to a local politician or getting on one of those “help the little guy” segment on the local news would have the same impact, success rate or the audience that doing (not exactly) hard time would. Plus, I wouldn’t expect a retiree to be net savvy enough to start NewHampshireDOTsucks.com.

    @Antediluvian: “And NH did away with discounts when they went to EZPass.”

    I don’t know if I read it here or elsewhere, but some study showed a disproportionate rate of increase in tolls on the NJ Turnpike since the EZPass was implemented, but was met with little resistance. The obvious takeaway is that, just as with credit cards, people are willing to spend more money if money doesn’t physically leave their wallets.

  42. floofy says:

    I’m still wondering what kind of marriage this guy has that he thought his wife wouldn’t know/mind that he was missing for 3 days!

  43. thepounder says:

    @floofy: Maybe his wife is something like Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet !) and he used this opportunity to get a break from her. ;)

    My apologies for the Keeping Up Appearances reference — I’m deployed and watch far too much BBC on DVD in my free time.

  44. cde says:

    @spinachdip: Personally, the turnpike fees are reasonable. 4 bucks to cover Jersey City to Delaware is nothing, and one exit up or down from the last is 35 or 50 cents, cheaper then the parkway. But then again, I don’t travel the Turnpike every day. The Parkway has had some recent toll changes, but thats because they are now staggered, farther away on each side. Instead of a toll both south and northbound at any given exit, its one or the other at double the price. So if you only travel one way, and not far enough to hit another toll, you don’t even have to pay.

  45. cde says:

    And about telling his wife. If he was taken to jail right after sentencing, when would he have been able to tell her? Either NH doesn’t give you money to make a call after sentencing (that 1 call you hear about is always after being arrested, not sentenced), or their phones don’t allow for long distance calling.

  46. ShadowFalls says:

    @andrewsmash:

    Though alot of states are outlawing the expiration of gift certificates or cards, even with your comparison it does not hold regardless. When buying a gift card where they can expire, you know when they will do so, with regards to the tokens, they were not sold with an expiration date.

    The State of New Hampshire should just have set a date to turn them in for comparable value, you can not expect a person to just use them up before a deadline. I would assume that one of two things occurred, he used them as normally as he did before (who actually tries using them up as soon as possible) or he had not seen any warnings as he didn’t travel the turnpikes frequently enough.

    In any regards, I applaud the guy for sticking to his principles. Just paying the 50 cents or just paying the fine, does not show you were not the one doing wrong.

  47. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    GOVT: You must use EZ Tag.
    CITIZEN: But what about these tokens you sold me?
    GOVT: Too bad, so sad, they are worth nothing!
    CITIZEN: So you stole my money?
    GOVT: Of course! What are you going to do about it? Take up arms and throw us out? Screw you!
    CITIZEN(S): **Take up arms and throw government out**

  48. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    The turnpike tolls may be reasonable but $7 to cross the GW bridge? Now that’s ridiculous.

  49. LionelEHutz says:

    Nobody should be forced to use an EZ-Pass simply because you can be tracked wherever you go with those damn things.

  50. Major-General says:

    @SimonSwegles: Exactly.

    Out of curiosity, do most states make you slow down for the EZ-Pass? In Oklahoma they don’t (yeah, nothing like paying the toll at 90), but in Kansas you have to do 20.

  51. mac-phisto says:

    now that he’s out, he should go down to the retirement center, distribute his entire token collection to everyone on bingo nite & they should plan a convoy of mass protest. new hampshire could see its first overcrowding jail over 50 cent tolls. HA!

    & a big congratulations to the officer that proves yet again that the new hampshire state police are the best douchebags around. *golf clap*

  52. Aladdyn says:

    Im from NH and I was wondering when I saw this story if it might end up here. Just a few facts some of which have already been stated:

    When tokens were sold you got a 50% discount on them, and you could buy as many or few at a time as you wanted.

    They were interchangeable with Funspot tokens (huge arcade with mostly vintage arcade games)

    Gift cards sold in NH are required by law to never expire (I was wondering about this angle because you could use the argument that the token is in fact a “gift card” of sorts.)

    There was no token buy back program.

    There are actually some businesses that will let you use tokens to buy from them. One I know of is The cool moose creamery (ice cream and candy) in Concord NH

    At some tolls the attendant leave after 10 o clock at night and one of them doesn’t have a sign stating that it is unattended until after you’ve exited the interstate. So I’m not sure what happens when ppl don’t have the change to pay the toll on that one.

  53. Aladdyn says:

    @mac-phisto: “NH could see its first overcrowding of jails over 50 cent tolls” Actually just a few weeks ago a bunch of ppl in a town that has toll booths into and out of it had a protest and paid their tolls all in pennies. Think a few ppl got ticketed for something or other.

  54. Buckler says:

    Killavanilla:

    “Good for you. Way to be an example for your grandkids. Lesson learned – if you don’t like something, act like an ass about it even if it means having to spend three days in a stinky, sweaty jail with rapists, burglers, muggers, and petty criminals. What fun!”

    Way to be an example for his grandkids indeed. When you see an injustice, you stand up for your principles and take the consequences. It’s hard to think of a better lesson.

  55. persch5 says:

    Toll token purchases made in rolls had been discounted by half. You would purchase a 10 dollar roll of token for 5 dollars. So, he spent 3 nights in jail for 25 cents. The big travesty of the New Hampshire toll system is that I live in the only town in the country that requires me to pay a toll no matter where I get on the public highway system. It is more of a pain than this gentleman has to pay 50 ce(oops) 25 cents for his trip up from Massachusettes. I pay on average of 43 cents per mile of travel on the system where the other drivers pay 4 cents per mile. No that to me is more unfair than a lousy 25 cent token.

  56. topgun says:

    Gee, I hope when I’m 68 I’ll have time to show the system what they can’t get away with and probably PO my wife in the process. Ah another genius got his 15 minutes of fame.

  57. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    New Hampshire — 1
    Thomas Jensen — 0

  58. killavanilla says:

    @Buckler:
    You may think that was the lesson, but I assure you the lesson was NOT that you should stand up for your beliefs.
    The lesson was that if you don’t like something, it’s okay to break the law.
    Had he taken this to the governor and made a public stink about it in the media, then I’d agree with you.
    But here’s what happened:
    This decision was made in January. He didn’t like it, so he decided to use them until no one would accept it anymore. When that happened, the tollway worker told him he has to pay the 50 cents in cash. When he refused, he was directed to a state tropper (who has better things to do than argue with an old man about 50 cents) who informed him that non-payment amounts to theft of services (this toll road is a pay-per-use roadway). He refused. He was charged and told to either pay a $150 fine or go to jail for three days.
    The lesson he taught wasn’t to stand up for your rights, but that stealing is okay if you think you have a good reason.
    He also taught the lesson that if you do get put in jail, you don’t have to let anyone know about it until you get out.
    Yes, you are allowed one phone call after arrest (that would have been a good time to call his wife), but according to state law [www.nh.gov]
    prisoners can make phone calls collect. All he needed to do was request to make one and they would have allowed it.
    So much speculation here without knowledge. It’s no wonder that most folks around here read one side of the story and make assumptive leaps in defense of the person.
    Bottom line – this guy wasted 3 days of his life over 50 cents that could have been used to actually change things. he chose, instead, to rot for 3 days behind bars and waste tax payer money.

  59. Did it occur to anyone that maybe he didn’t even have the fifty cents to pay the toll. According to azntg the man isn’t a resident of NH. It is possible that he didn’t have any change on him because he was expecting his tokens to work.

    Furthermore, I doubt he requested a trial because he expected to lose so it is incorrect to say that he chose jail time. He chose to fight the citation and lost, that’s all.

  60. thepounder says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Not necessarily.
    He paid no $150 fine… Hell, he didn’t even pay the toll as far as the State’s concerned.

    Good for him for having principles. You obviously disagree, but still… he didn’t pay a fine.

    @persch5: That’s really crappy, not being able to avoid toll roads. Why the hell would anyone pay an average of $.43/mile to drive anywhere in New England? I grew up there & I cannot tell you how happy I am I no longer live there.

  61. madktdisease says:

    @thepounder: uh, new toll roads popping up? the only tolls in MA have been there since the stone age.

    it’s sorta sad that people are jumping on this guy for being an ass. he’s standing up for what he beleives in, and NH is supposed to be the live free or die state. i lost out on a couple bucks’ worth of tokens because i stopped dating a guy from NH with a whole roll of tokens left. *shakes fist*

  62. thepounder says:

    @killavanilla: Good Lord, you’re still arguing over this?

    You have no footing to say “what lesson he taught”… that’s up for interpretation.

    “he chose, instead, to rot for 3 days behind bars and waste tax payer money.” Wow… just wow. Now you’re being just plain cuckoo.

  63. sporesdeezeez says:

    Apologies in advance if this comes across as pompous, but I feel like this flame war, er, thread, is lacking a bit in empathy? I think this guys’ values are different, and that’s just a difference.

    I mean, yeah, give me a choice between paying $.50 and three days in lockup, I’ll probably submit to the brutality of the state there and pay my $.50. But that’s because of my particular set of values. I value my limited freedom over submitting to occasional extortion. But maybe this guy doesn’t?

    I am reminded of Walter Sobchak:

    The chinaman is not the issue here! I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line you do not — also, Dude, “chinaman” is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.

    Granted, I’m drawing similarities to a ridiculous character, but my point is this guy clearly has some different values than most of us, and his protest is not entirely without merit. To him, it’s very important that when the state takes your money, they do what they promised to do with it. Going to jail for this principle has some merit, too – it illustrates nicely how oppressive the state is willing to be in order to be infallible. It’s a two-way street, after all – “he went to jail over $.50,” but from another perspective, “New Hampshire jailed him over $.50.” The latter seems even more ridiculous to me.

    As for those who say he would do better to submit and then raise a fuss later – I would defy you to get the kind of media interest and public awareness this guy has gotten in three days without going to jail. Writing letters to your legislators would not be nearly as effective.

    New Hampshire is wrong here. And even if the damages are negligible, to some people the principle is very important when dealing with government. Working in government, which I realize is a very human institution, I don’t always agree. But inasmuch as government sometimes presents itself as super-human, I understand his point.

  64. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @thepounder: “but at least he didn’t pay a fine”

    You’re right – if I had the choice of paying 50 cents or 3 days in the clink, I’d choose the 3 day sentence. And then I’d get out and laugh in the face of the system and say “boy, I sure showed you! You didn’t get a DIME from me!!” And then, after I came down from my cloud of victory, I’d probably begin to realize that I just valued 3 days of my own life at a staggering price of just 50 cents. But hey – at least I didn’t pay a fine!

    Listen, I admire and respect people who stand up for what they believe in, but there’s a diminishing return effect in situations like this. But that’s just my opinion, and he obviously values other things less (or more, depending on the way you look at it) than I do. I don’t look at him as “wasting his time” rotting behind bars like others here might, only because that’s how he values his time and his beliefs. So all the power to him.

    *massive eyeroll*

  65. killavanilla says:

    @thepounder:
    First of all, I wasn’t aware that we weren’t allowed to discuss posts after we respond a few times.
    Second of all, it is a total waste of taxpayer money to jail some retiree to recouperate a debt. It is necessary, but only because oldy mccheapers decided not to float the 50 cents. Yes, it seems odd to think about, but the state has now experienced a NET LOSS. 50 cents, then three days of housing, feeding, and caring for some old guy who has never heard of the phrase “we live to fight another day” as in “I’ll pay the 50 cents, then raise hell later.”
    Now he’s considering suing, which also costs tax payer money and floods the overworked court system with yet another stupid docket number.
    I’m sorry you don’t ‘get’ that, but when we put people in jail, it costs taxpayer dollars to feed him, keep him safe, give him shower time, and clean up after him.
    Again, all this over a fifty cent toll…
    what blows my mind is that many people STILL don’t understand that what he did was stupid, unnecessary, and completely irresponsible.

  66. disavow says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers:
    RTFA. The fine would have been $150.

  67. killavanilla says:

    @sporesdeezeez:
    for the record, New Hampshire didn’t jail him over 50 cents. They jailed him in lieu of his desire to not pay a $150 fine for theft of services.
    If you use the tollway, you HAVE to pay. Period. He didn’t like it, so he tried to use tokens that were no longer valid.
    Going to jail didn’t buy him any sympathy from the state either. He did the wrong thing. It’s quite simple really. He was told that his tollway usage costs 50 cents. He wanted to use tokens that expired 9 months ago.
    To me, it sounds like he WANTED to go to jail.

  68. mstevens says:

    I live in New Hampshire. This issue of the toll tokens’ expiring was annoyingly well-publicized. The state does NOT exclusively use EZ-Pass. They also happily accept cash. My wife and I have never gotten an EZ-Pass and had lots of tokens when this was first announced. IIRC, we had a FULL YEAR to use up our tokens and had no difficulty doing so. There was a small advantage to purchasing tokens in that if they were purchased in full rolls you got more than you would have in a roll of quarters, so this is NOT the same as a gift certificate. It’s more like futures. There were people who would have been happy to buy my tokens for slightly less than face value but at least what I paid for them. This guy is just trying to make a point. That’s the New Hampshire way, and more power to him. He just gets no sympathy from me whatsoever.

  69. Buran says:

    Ahem. A break from the fight for a minute…

    What if you are from out of state and are passing through? Surely, there’s some way to account for those people.

  70. AnnC says:

    You know who else from Massachusetts spent time in jail for not paying their tax?

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  71. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @Buran: Excellent point! Like mstevens pointed to above, they accept cash too.

    I think I’m going to take a trip to New Hampshire and see if I can pay with Monopoly Money. Because effectually, that’s just what this guy did.

  72. mac-phisto says:

    @killavanilla: you might be the one missing the point, even though you seem to understand it completely. the goal of this type of direct action is to cost the state a whole load of money so they realize (in the only way they understand – $$$) how ridiculous their policy is. in this, he seems to have succeeded. he probably cost the state $1000. as you pointed out, a lawsuit will set them back more. seems pretty successful to me.

    whether or not you think it was a good decision is irrelevant – it wasn’t your decision to make.

  73. killavanilla says:

    @mac-phisto:
    perhaps, but that’s as ridiculous as any other excuse.
    See, it may have cost the state money to jail him (which I find upsetting because ultimately that means that TAXPAYERS get hurt, not the state), but it also cost him three days of freedom.
    Now, I can’t judge based on his life, but MY time is worth more than the state has to spend for me to be in jail.
    If it cost the state $1000 (that means it cost taxpayers $1000, not the state), that would roughly pay for one day of profit I earn for my company, making it still a loss for me.
    Time is valuable. He didn’t “get” the state and it won’t hurt them, even if he sues and wins (which he wont). why? Because states are taxpayer funded. meaning every dollar the state spent on him being in jail came from taxpayers. So all he really did was hurt his fellow taxpayers (including himself).
    You are right. It doesn’t really matter what I think about his decision. But it sure makes for an interesting discussion.

  74. sporesdeezeez says:

    @killavanilla:

    for the record, New Hampshire didn’t jail him over 50 cents. They jailed him in lieu of his desire to not pay a $150 fine for theft of services.

    No. I’m sure that seems very true from your rhetorical perspective, but legally speaking that is not a fact. That would be true if he had been jailed for contempt. He was jailed, as you seem to understand, under the criminal penalties for the charge of theft of services. Value of said services? Fifty cents.

    Even from the perspective you’re taking on this, your statement is false by omission. He also had the option to do community service. So they “jailed him in lieu of community service or in lieu of his failure to pay a $150 fine.” Ridiculous sentence, I agree, but who cares, because it’s incorrect anyway.

    If you use the tollway, you HAVE to pay. Period. He didn’t like it, so he tried to use tokens that were no longer valid.

    Well, isn’t his point that he already paid? Indeed, without going into a full-blown contract law analysis (impossible, facts are too scarce) he does have at least one critical element identifying an enforcable contract: consideration.

  75. mac-phisto says:

    @killavanilla: i appreciate your opinion – i wouldn’t have gone to jail for a toll. but then, i never paid a bullshit $70 ez-pass fine from the garden state 7 or 8 years ago (& luckily they never caught up to me – nah! nah! jersey). had they caught me, i would have buckled. but i already paid those bastards their 35 cents & all they had to prove i didn’t pay was a photo. “hi! this is your car so you owe us money.” f- you jersey.

    sometimes, you have to cost the state (& ultimately other taxpayers) money to obtain justice.

    personally, i like this guy’s methods better. check it out, it’s funny as hell:

    [www.zug.com]

  76. jaewon223 says:

    Kudos to this guy for sticking up for what is RIGHT. He paid for his tokens and the state should recognize that he already prepaid to use the highways. Everybody who’s mocking him for going to jail when he could have easily avoided by forking over a measly $0.50 is missing the point. He shouldn’t have to pay double just because he purchased in bulk from what the state offered at the time.

    He stood up for what was right. It’s difficult to place blame but look what it’s costing society. Putting a man away for 3 days, negative publicity on police and judicial branch, and maybe $10 mill.

    Seems like the government is more bent on trying to make this guy pay again.

  77. killavanilla says:

    @sporesdeezeez:
    Consideration was for tokens, not tolls. The state, according to people who live there, made it painfully obvious that the token would cease to have value at a certain point well in advance. As a result, this gentleman tried to use expired tokens.
    Yes, the state had received money in exchange for the tokens, but surely you have to agree that going to jail over it isn’t the most effective way of challenging the state. Simply put, an effective argument in the form of a class action could have been attempted. A protest would have worked better. Heck, contacting the governor would have likely resulted in a real solution.
    And the argument about consideration may be moot anyway, as it would have been prudent for the state to include a clause specifying that token purchases are consideration for the tokens, which act as a discount over standard toll charges. One simple line in the purchase agreement likely ends this angle: “Tokens may be revoked at any time and for any reason. There is no implied guarantee of permanent value.”
    No?

  78. killavanilla says:

    @jaewon223:
    $10 million? Puh-leeze.
    This guy barely has a case at all.
    He’s not likely to file one and even less likely to win it.
    He didn’t stand up for what is right, he stood up for what he thought was right. The state gave him reasonable notice. He didn’t like it.
    I know this is unpopular around here, but in a situation like this the best course of action is to try and discuss it BEFORE going to jail. By all means, go to jail if you’ve already contacted the state and asked for relief. But as a first action? Seems like a total waste.
    And when I read this, I didn’t think the state was at fault at all. I wondered about the sanity of a man who would go to jail for three days for refusing to pay a 50 cent toll.

  79. The state gave him reasonable notice.

    @killavanilla: You mean New Jersey ran ads in Massachusetts about the tokens expiring? Because I don’t see how he’d have been notified of it otherwise.

    Excellent point! Like mstevens pointed to above, they accept cash too.

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Why would he bring quarters with him if he was expecting tokens to work? He might not have had any cash on him at all.

    @killavanilla: Would it have been less insane to pay $150 for not paying the toll twice or doing community service? It’s not like he could pay the toll after losing the trial.

  80. killavanilla says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:
    Well, no. I don’t mean the NEW HAMPSHIRE ads. He had a cottage in New Hampshire he’s been going to for years, with regularity.
    And then there is this, from the original story:

    “New Hampshire dropped its token system two years ago when it installed the Fast Pass system used in most Northeast states. The state gave drivers until Dec. 31, 2005, to use their 25-cent tokens.

    In March of 2006, Jensen was driving to his cottage in Ossipee when he tried to pay the 50-cent fare at the Spaulding Turnpike’s Rochester toll plaza using two tokens, as he had been doing for years.

    The toll booth worker refused to take them and a state trooper at the plaza gave Jensen a citation.

    ”(The trooper) said, ‘Just give him the 50 cents.’ I said, ‘I did, I gave him two tokens,”’ Jensen recalled while sitting on the steps outside his Messina Woods Drive home.

    He never had to go to trial, nor did he have to get the citation. The trooper gave him his options.
    Additionally, he had been traveling via that toll road for years on the way back and forth from and to his cottage.
    Per consumerist reader MSTEVENS attested, they made it painfully and annoyingly clear that the tokens would expire. They gave plenty of reasonable notice. To me, this means this guy just chose to ignore it. He could have appealed for a refund at any point in the last 2 years.
    Respectfully, I disagree with the notion that this was the best option.