Florida Motorists Illegally Detained For Paying With Large Bills

Is it a crime to pay a $1 toll with a $100 bill? The people responsible for counting out change might wish that it were, but paying a toll with legal tender isn’t a crime. Toll collectors in Florida allegedly asks motorists for personal information and illegally detained them for paying with bills deemed too large. Even better? Toll takers flagged and detained drivers paying with bills as small as $20 based on racial profiling.

This program came to light when a man who tried to pay a $1 toll with a hundred-dollar bill, and was told that he would need to provide his personal information in order to be allowed to pass through the tollboth. He realized that this kind of detainment is illegal, and began corresponding with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and recording his encounters with toll collectors.

The Department of Transportation claimed that there was no policy requiring toll collectors to take the information of motorists paying with large bills. Except that there was. Now the man is planning a class-action lawsuit.

It was a rather typical government program in that it cost the government double the amount of the fake currency it purportedly caught.

From WTSP:

The Department also spent $32,000 on forms used to catch the $16,000 in funny money. The department also says in e-mails, the program will help law enforcement catch counterfeiters.

However, as [the detained man] discovered, in the 885 times the D.O.T. claims it received counterfeit money, not one time was it referred to any law enforcement agency of any description.

To be fair, people paying with large bills weren’t always detained: they were free to leave if they didn’t want their change.

Counterfeit bills are generally treated as a hot potato: the last person stuck with the money takes the loss and turns the cash in to the Secret Service.

Motorists illegally detained at Florida tolls – for using large bills! [WTSP] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)