Would You Risk A $200 Ticket To Save $2 In Bridge Tolls?

When authorities in the San Francisco area enacted congestion-based pricing on the Bay Bridge, charging higher rates before 10 a.m., they didn’t imagine that so many people would risk up to $200 in fines just to save two dollars at the toll plaza.

Since putting the 10 a.m. threshold in place three years ago, a number of area drivers who approach the plaza early will simply pull over and wait until it’s cheaper to proceed. Others will look for the longest line and then inch toward the tollbooths hoping to wait out the higher toll.

But authorities tell the San Francisco Chronicle that even though thrifty drivers are making a habit of this behavior, it’s illegal.

“It is not encouraged and it is a citable [offense],” says a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. “They’re trying to save $2 and risking a couple-hundred-dollar ticket.”

And while the CHiPs claim that there is regular enforcement of the law against pulling off to the side of the highway, regulars at the plaza say they don’t see it.

“Every day they’re there, parked,” says one driver, who tells the Chronicle he’s only seen a handful of people getting tickets. “They just pull over like it is no big deal.”

If handed out, those tickets range from $100 to $200 for the driver. Authorities also warn that people pulled off to the side of the road present a danger to cars on the highway when they suddenly pull out after that clock strikes 10:00. And let’s not forget about the gas wasted while idling there. Given the cost of gasoline in California, all that waiting eats into a driver’s margins.

A better way to avoid the higher toll, says the CHiP rep, is to “Plan your schedule around it, pull off and park… Go have coffee. Get a latte. Get a Jamba Juice.”

We wanted to know what you would do: