Florida Judges Tosses Out Thousands Of Bogus Toll Fines

A Florida judge tossed out thousands of Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority and Florida Turnpike Authority toll violation citations for people getting tickets for no apparent reason because their toll transponders malfunctioned. Citizens were subjected to a “bureaucratic morass” when they tried to sort out the bogus tickets, made all the worse because their accounts were on auto-debit. [Orlando Sentinel]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. MrGrimes says:

    Judge

  2. CharlieInSeattle says:

    This is happening here in Washington State on the Tacoma narrows bridge also. I in fact just talked to someone that had to go to court over a bunch of tickets he got, even though he had a transponder, and $90 dollars in his account.

  3. CharlieInSeattle says:

    That’s also happening here in Washington State on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I just talked to someone this morning that got a bunch of tickets even though he had a transponder and $90 dollars in his account, ended up having to go to court.

  4. FLConsumer says:

    This totally neglects that the transponder system in FL doesn’t read accurately to begin with. Flip back a few months and you’ll find a similar issue in Tampa, ‘though slightly different. People getting double-billed, charged for multiple cars at a time, sometimes charged for multiple cars at different toll plazas in different cities simultaneously.

    As much as I’d like the convenience of the transponder, I don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to get DOT to admit that they’re wrong and the additional hassle of trying to get the situation rectified.

  5. dragonfire81 says:

    I wouldn’t doubt if these transponders were designed to deliberately function badly so the toll companies can squeeze more customers out of bogus fines.

  6. FLConsumer says:

    Link to the SunPass overcharging story:
    [www.tampabays10.com]

  7. B1663R says:

    This happens to me all the time on the 407 in Ontario.
    i constantly get robbed by late fees, monthly account fees etc…

    horror stories are common that people get monthly fees in excess of $1000.00 my personal record of late fees was $1200.00 because i was double billed (transponder didn’t work and they treated me like a car without a transponder big $$$)

    bunch of crooks

  8. SpenceMan01 says:

    I hate Auto-debit. All it does is compound the crap-pile in situations like this. I much prefer pushing money (through online bill pay) to companies rather than having them pull it out of my account.

  9. SadSam says:

    And here in Florida, the DOT is changing many off ramps to Sun-Pass only (no person to collect money tolls) so if you don’t have a Sun-Pass you can’t exit at that ramp or you exit and get a ticket.

  10. Odwalla says:

    So was the time saved by each person going through a tollbooth at ~20-30mph more or less than the time wasted by those people when trying to clear their account mess up?

    I’ll keep coming to a complete stop and throwing some change in the bin. It’s less headache and probably more of a time savings anyway.

  11. badgeman46 says:

    Why would anyone give the government complete access to their bank account? Cash only for me, thanks.

  12. outinthedark says:

    My parents visited me when I lived down in Florida and my Father paid twice just in case. He got frustrated and just went through w/o paying and my Mom started to freak.

    They never got a ticket…those turn-pikes are ridiculous. They were always broken whenever we went anywhere west.

  13. BeThisWay says:

    badgeman46 – the government has access to your account any time they want anyway. Your privacy is just an illusion.

    I’m in Florida and my transponder occasionally malfunctions. They just deduct the toll and we’re good to go. I haven’t had any problems with ticketing or overcharging.

    Here people without transponders pay more than those that have one. Turnpike and Sawgrass Expwy tolls here in SoFl are $1 if you pay cash, $.75 if you have a transponder.

  14. Buran says:

    @SadSam: If I’m about out of gas or something is drastically wrong with my car and I need to get off the highway, they can shove their ticket. Up to you to imagine where. I can’t see a judge doing that to someone who had a reason to get off ASAP.

  15. In Illinois, the toll is double if you don’t have a surveillance device installed in your car. I view this as an infringement of my right to travel, as well as a stupid policy against visitors to the state (not to mention people who may not have a credit card or checking account). When I have to use the toll roads, I pay the liberty tax rather than subject myself to surveillance and potential bureaucracy.

  16. FLConsumer says:

    @BeThisWay: It’s $0.25 less per toll (avg), so you’d have to pay 100 tolls before you’d break even on the purchase price of the transponder ($25). If you don’t drive the toll roads daily, it definitely doesn’t make financial sense.

    Then add in an hour or two over the year for you to verify your toll statements, then you better be earning near minimum-wage to make it worthwhile.

  17. stacye says:

    @SadSam: They are doing something similar to this in Texas. Although you will not get a ticket. Instead you get a bill, with the amount of the toll, plus a $2.00 processing fee.

    I have a tag, because it’s free, I get a discount on the tolls, and most of the highways are going toll. They moved their system over, and screwed up my license plate number. So, when my tag malfunctioned it couldn’t charge my account. They sent me one of those lovely bills.

    I refused to pay the $2.00 processing fee, but they sent me a nasty letter saying if I didn’t, that it would go to collections.

  18. Underpants Gnome says:

    I know we like to complain, but playing devil’s advocate, the open-road tolling has cut probably 20 minutes off of my commute from the burbs to downtown Chicago.
    The Cumberland road toll plaza used to be 15 minutes of gridlock on a good day, and now the only slowdown is the tourists trying to get over to the cash lanes at the last minute. I’ve never had a problem with my transponder though, so I probably haven’t seen the bad side.

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    It happens in California as well.

    I think they’re designed to fail a certain low percentage of the time – high enough to make it rewarding for the vendors (they’re all public/private “partnerships”, usually the same jackals that commit multi-million dollar gov’t fraud (Boeing, etc)), low enough so that it’s not obvious.

    Add to that the difficulty they make it to appeal (sort of like manufacturer rebates) and they can rely on a nice revenue stream of pilfered loot.

    The automated red light cameras here are obscene. I loaned my car out to a visiting friend who was forced to make a left turn a millisecond late and got “caught”. Then he returned to France.

    Two months later, I received a letter from my municipality saying that since I didn’t reply to the original summons, I couldn’t fight it. I was liable for penalties, late fees, a mark on my driving record, insurance hikes, the works.

    It turns out they send the initial ticket, the one you can fight, in a non-official envelope. Looks just just junk mail that one would toss w/o a second thought. A design mistake, I’m sure. (rolling eyes)

    Can’t call to fix it. Can’t write to fix it. Had to waste an entire day in court, appear in front of a judge. Finally show the picture to him (driver’s one race, I’m another – duh). Judge asks why I wasted a day in court for such an obvious mistake.

    “I know how you feel, your honor,” was the only vindication I could pull out of the horrorshow.

    Robocop things like this are designed to fail, since the companies and municipalities both make money for “mistakes”. And they make it so onerous to correct them hoping most people simply roll over and pay. And pay. And pay.

    Evil. Just. Evil.

  20. mac-phisto says:

    @SpenceMan01: in a situation like this, it’s lose-lose. many transponder programs outright require a direct debit. some allow you to fund the account on your own – but if the money’s not there, they charge you fees similar to running the tollbooths. plus, you often have to pay additional fees for NOT signing up for auto-debit (kind of like how insurance companies charges you like $4/mo. to bill monthly).

  21. Mr_D says:

    Transponders aren’t even needed. If their stoplight cameras can nail us for running those, they can record us going through the toll both and send us a bill.

  22. MeOhMy says:

    The EZ-Pass transponders here in the NE have a battery that can fail but conveniently has no sort of indicator to let the user know it has failed. I know some people who’ve run into trouble with this.

    I had a somewhat negative experience a year ago when I drove from Philly to Boston. Recently both my major credit cards had their numbers changed. I must have screwed up when I typed in one of the numbers because my “primary” card was wrong. My “secondary” card was right, though. On my way home, my account went under the auto-reload threshold, tried to hit the primary credit card and, of course, failed.

    On the way home I got yellow lights at toll booths and in places with digital readouts a “Call the service center” message

    A few days later I got a notice from EZ-Pass that my credit card was screwed up, so I went online and fixed it.

    A few days after that I got a notice from the NJ Turnpike commission for the $3 toll plus a $25 – that’s TWENTY FIVE dollar “administrative fee.” The next day I got another notice, this time from the Parkway, so two $25 fees! I don’t care who is running the roads, they should not be able to hit you twice.

    In any case, it was easy to resolve, I just had to check a box on the notice and include my transponder # and a check for the actual toll (no processing fee) and got letters a few days later saying everything was fine.

    Two weeks later (after I had corrected my primary card #), EZ Pass deigned to charge my backup card and replensih my account. What’s the point of a backup card if yo’re going to wait 2 weeks? As soon as the first one fials, try the second one! That’s why it’s there!

    ANd yeah – while I’ve got my own reservations about giving my banking info to business so they can take money out when they want, if you have money in a bank account in the US, the government can go get it if they want it.

  23. ideagirl says:

    @SpenceMan01: Me, too. Only once did I give a company access to debit my account, and a year later they started double billing me and refused to fix it. I had to dispute their charges to get their attention.

    Online bill pay FTW!

  24. felixgolden says:

    I’ve been avoiding getting a SunPass, but as someone else said, a lot of the exits/entrances I would use are SunPass only. I’ve been avoiding the Turnpike altogether, but the construction on 95 is getting to be an issue.

    I’ve had similar problems with EZ-Pass in NY/NJ. I’ve gotten letters stating that I didn’t pay the toll, but they used my EZ-Pass account information to send me the letter! Then they charge the $25 fine to my automatic debit.

  25. mac-phisto says:

    @Troy F.: look at the bright side – you didn’t get nailed with the $90 “unauthorized use of an ez-pass lane” like i did when my $0.35 didn’t register in the basket at one of the 1,326 toll booths on the garden state.

    makes you wonder if shit like this is worth the $30:
    [www.loover.com]

  26. Orv says:

    More of this is coming. Gas taxes have not kept up with the cost of road construction, so a bunch of states are looking at either expanding tolling or turning highways into privatized toll roads. (I believe many toll roads in Illinois are now owned by foreign investors.)

    @Mr_D: The stoplight cameras I’m aware of have a human in the loop — a cop sits at a computer and reviews the photos.

    Now, in London they actually are using a congestion tolling system that involves automatic reading of license plates. In theory it’s a good idea because it saves having to put a transponder in every car. Unfortunately, the unintended result has been a massive surge in license plate theft.

  27. Trai_Dep says:

    @Orv: In CA, it’s not a cop that reviews the pictures, but an employee of the contractor that’s splitting the revenue with the city. A built-in conflict.
    That’s besides the point of extenuating circumstances which you’d be able to simply raise if you had a police officer doing his job actually writing tickets.
    And, again, contesting the ticket is so fiendishly onerous by design that many are coerced into not doing so.
    Evil. Simply evil.

  28. Orv says:

    @Trai_Dep: It’s not so bad here in WA. The tickets are reviewed by a police officer. Also, because they can’t prove you were driving the car, the offense does not count against your driving record.