Trapped In A Tollbooth Without Money: What Do You Do?

Visiting Orlando, Sarah ended up in a Florida Turnpike toll booth that only accepted change or EZ-Pass. The booth apparently wasn’t set up to capture her rental’s license plate and automatically charge her. It was unmanned. She had no change. She found a solution to the problem that was practical, but violated some traffic laws. She wonders: what would others have done?

Here is her tale of tollbooth woe:

Upon a visit to Florida, we landed in Orlando Airport (MCO).
Picked up a rental and went eastwards on the 528 towards Cocoa Beach.

The 528 is a turnpike, and unmanned at the time (10 PM). We had only notes (had single dollar notes mind you), but the machine only accepted coins or Ez-Pass, and I found no contact information or information on what to do.

At the situation, I considered calling 911 to let them know of our stranded vehicle in booth 3, but dialed 411 and asked for the Florida Turnpike company.
After being rerouted the machine told me to call back between 9 and 5.

No cars had passed in the last ten minutes, and I started backing at the shoulder of the road, ready to halt if a vehicle came by.
None came and after a mile or so I came to an intersection, allowing me to fetch a drive through burger and get me the required quarters.

The issue has intrigued me.
Should I have called 911 (or perhaps Florida Highway Patrol)?
Perhaps just gone through and paid the fee for passing without paying?
And are they not required to take my money unless I have coins (notes are legal tender too!)?

Here’s putting my head out hoping for tips.
Anyone else been in the same situation?
What did you do?


Edit Your Comment

  1. mergatroy6 says:

    Don’t be surprised if the rental agency ends up charging your credit card for a traffic ticket. If the toll booths are not manned by employees there has to be a camera system in place to catch toll evaders.

    • Misha says:

      But she didn’t evade it. She went back and got quarters and paid the toll.

      • mergatroy6 says:

        Much worse, she traveled against traffic on a major road. It may have been late at night when there was no traffic but it was still a dangerous move. If there is no gate just keep moving forward.

        • Misha says:

          Flag on the play for goalpost-moving. Your first post was talking only about toll evasion; if you meant to express something else with it, you needed to be more clear.

  2. BurtReynolds says:

    Well you can’t exactly turn around. If there is no gate, I’d just drive through I guess.

    I have an EZ Pass, so my chances are facing this scenario are pretty slim.

    Which reminds me, I had my windshield replaced a couple years ago and forgot to put the EZ Pass back on. I was driving to work and drove through the no-gate EZ Pass lane when it gave me the red light as I drove through. Then it dawned on me I didn’t pull the EZ Pass out of my glovebox. I never saw a ticket or charge on the account for that. Maybe they give you a freebie?

    • bhr says:

      IF you have an EZpass on your plate with credits it will just pull the charge off the pass, whether it is displayed or not. At least it used to be that way in MD.

    • Tedicles says:

      In PA, 1 sensor missed my EZ Pass and I got a letter, a 2 minute phone call to verify my EZ Pass and it was applied to my account. For some reason during this roadtrip, it worked at 10+ other tolls, but for some reason did not register at this particular one. Either way, as long as you have an EZ Pass you should be able to take care of it with a quick phone call (whether it did not read, your account is too low, etc)

    • purepoppeople says:

      I wouldn’t count out EZPass so fast. I’ve had a problem before because my account is set to add money if I go below a certain dollar amount. Let’s say my account is at $10.50 and my account auto adds at $10, and I go through more than $10 in tolls that day. It doesn’t automatically add funds to your account when you drop below $10, even if linked to a credit card that day so you could reasonably go over your limit. The worst part is that they make it pretty hard to check and update your limit, at least in MA where until recently we had FastPass, the state’s version of EZPass.

  3. Gman says:

    I would have backed out and used the drive through lanes. If there is no choice at all they normally give a pass or two a year incase you forgot money or your e-pass dies.

    But in reality the OP should check with her rental agency. The rental should have had a sticker version of the e-pass. It is not electronic and makes no noise, but still charges. I would make sure she was not double charged.

    Finally, next time she arrives in Orlando, there is a [much longer] but free rout to the parks and I-Drive area. Use side roads [or 436] to get to I-4, then hit the appropriate exit.

    • Gman says:

      DOH! i missed the beach thing [sigh…sorry!] still same method applies, just takes much, much longer

  4. NotATool says:

    Was there a gate blocking your progress through the toll? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the decision to back up for a MILE on the shoulder of a tollway vs. blowing off the toll and then calling the Turnpike office in the morning. One method might cost you a $50 fine…the other could have easily cost your life.

  5. Brianna says:

    That’s happened to me. We just drove through. Never got a ticket.

  6. SirWired says:

    You should have gone through. Most (all?) rental companies at MCO have the car’s plate registered with the toll authorities (PlatePass in FL?) There should be a little stick on your windshield telling you all about it, along with the fees for using the program. (Something like $3/day + the toll.)

  7. demona667 says:

    The very same thing happened to me a few years ago. I was driving my mothers car. The toll booth was unmanned and there were no instructions about what to do if you went through the Sun Pass lane accidentally.

    When I got back to mom’s, I looked for info on the Sun Pass website. I called their number and was told that since it was a single offense (meaning no additional fees or penalties) that I should wait till they mailed me (or my mom, the owner of the vehicle) a notice for the amount and remit payment.

    They did, she did, problem solved.

  8. sponica says:

    NH used to use the honor system back before the cameras were set up. Seriously, there were envelopes that you could take and mail in. I would take them and never mail them in (although really I was also overpaying the toll when I did pay because I didn’t see the sign and assumed the on/off ramps were as expensive as the ones on the highway)

  9. Doc Moonlight says:

    Most care rental companies I’ve used lately have a toll tag option for the rental. You pay a small charge ($2 a day with a maximum for $6 for the rental) and your tolls are billed to your credit card. The billing is not done by the rental company, but through a third party and only activates when you use it. So she may have been covered and not realized it.

  10. Cat says:

    I had a crapload of tollbooth problems on my trip!

    Why can’t all toll booths just accept debit/credit?

  11. P=mv says:

    I once got stuck at a toll booth in Orlando that only accepted EZPass. Kind of difficult when all you’ve got is quarters. With three irate drivers behind me I had to drive through. I had no choice. Thankfully, no ticket came in the mail.

  12. Will Print T-shirts For Food says:

    Im so glad I don’t live in that toll-ridden city anymore.

  13. Sarek says:

    Backing up like that is incredibly dangerous. She should have just gone through and tried to appeal later on using the argument of it being ridiculous to have an unmanned toll booth that doesn’t take bills and credit cards.

  14. Willow16 says:

    Isn’t there a bridge in NYC that only accepts EZ-Pass or is set to only accept it sometime in the future? What happens if you need to drive over it and don’t have it?

    We don’t have EZ-Pass and it is a pain when we drive on toll roads. I know the states want everyone to have it but, if you have to pay a monthly fee and only drive on toll roads a few times a year, why would we pay for it?

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      There’s at least one exit off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that only takes EZPass. IIRC, the PA Turnpike and other various tolls that use EZ Pass may cost a little less if you use EZPass rather than cash, so even if you pay the tiny monthly fee (50 cents in PA), you can quickly make up for the fee. Not to mention it’s really worth the monthly fee to not have to worry about having cash for tolls on you.

    • sponica says:

      maybe it differs by state, but last I checked my EZ Pass didn’t have a monthly fee (outside of keeping 10 bucks in it and having the replenishment amount set at 35 dollars)

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        It does differ by state. I had a NY EZ-Pass when I moved to MD, and then when NY started charging a monthly “account maintenance fee” (I’m sorry, do you need to dust and/or lube the electrons that are storing my account information?), I switched to a MD EZ-Pass…then MD started charging, and I found that MA does not charge a maintenance fee nor do they charge for transponders. Finally, a state that’s happy to take my money, dammit!

        I did have to print out the MA FastLane application and mail it in, since when I tried to apply online, it redirected me back to the MD EZ-Pass web site. However, I filled out the paper form with my MD license plates and MD address, and they didn’t say anything about it.

        • sponica says:

          we actually had NJ EZ Pass accounts before NH signed on board….MA FastLane was affiliated with some bank my mother didn’t want to join.

          I think NJ waived the monthly fee as long as she had it set on auto-pay or something like that…or she sucked it up and paid the buck

    • euph_22 says:

      Find a state that doesn’t have a maintenance fee, and get the pass from there.

    • nybiker says:

      The bridges here in New York City accept both cash & EZPass. The good thing is that the East River bridges don’t have tolls at all.

      As for a monthly fee, it does depend not only a what state you live in, but it also might depend upon which agency you apply to.
      The other bad thing is that in a tit-for-tat move various states are charging EZPass holders the cash toll if they are not using their state’s EZPass. The whole idea of the transponder toll system is to save money & time. They already have our money in their account. What’s with them giving the shaft to out-of-staters? I know the answer: MONEY!!!!!

      Depending on where you are going, it might behoove you to apply to that state’s agency for an EZPass. At a bare minimum, you give them $25 and when the balance drops to $10 they hit your credit card. As long as there is no monthly fee for the account, you’d be fine. The NY MTA EZPass is fee-free. The New Jersey Port Authority hits you with a fee for theirs.
      Good luck.

  15. abeja says:

    I am in Tampa, [Florida], and the way the system works here, whether its on a crosstown in [Brandon]; veterans in [Tampa], or turnpike in [Orlando], if you do not have the funds, they image your license plate and bill you. Now if you pull up to a ‘change provided’ booth, they will give you a document and envelope to mail your funds to the state. Even on ‘Quarter’ tolls, if you drive by, its not a charge or breaking the law, but they do expect you to pay. If you don’t pay, well we know where that leads to, higher fines and suspension of your license, der.

    • abeja says:

      It says that the booth wasn’t set up to catch the rental plate, rather than violate laws, just drive through, heaven forbid you pass a toll booth that costs $1.00 – > $1.25. If anything, even if they do find out, that will just bill you. Its not like you robbed a bank trying to smuggle drugs into a congested area. Lol They don’t care half the time, this isn’t the mexico border your trying to cross.

  16. tinmanx says:

    I remember driving a rental from the Everglades to Orlando, I swear there was a toll every 15 miles. I would be driving happily and boom, traffic at a toll. And each toll was for like $.50, $.75, or $1. Why can’t I just give them $10 and they let me drive in peace?

    • abeja says:

      “Why can’t I just give them $10 and they let me drive in peace?”

      Lol, you can, its called sunpass, and ez-pass will also take sunpass as well. They make sell the sunpass device in the store for $20, minimum fee is $20 and must have an active credit card or debit card if you were to run out of fee’s, there are no surcharges or over charges to worry bout. You can have $20 sitting on your device for so many months and not use it, the account always stays active until you close it, but every 4-5 years they update the device.

  17. Joedragon says:

    E-PASS / sunpass DOES NOT TAKE Ez-Pass at this time.

  18. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I got in the wrong lane going into the NJ side of the Lincoln tunnel a couple of years ago. What a clustermuck that mess is. I had the cash for the toll, but ended up in the wrong lane after being blocked by trucks and I couldn’t see what I was doing. So I drove through and later called the NJ Transit people. They said they didn’t handle toll violations for New York tolls. So I waited, and sure enough, I got a note in the mail from the rental car company asking that I remit the $8 toll.

    Honestly I don’t know how people drive in that mess every day. I couldn’t do it.

    • icerabbit says:

      I couldn’t drive through there frequently either, let alone every day.

      I’ve had a couple of very frustrating drives in and through NY with a trailer in tow and nobody giving you a couple inches of space; people driving in more lanes then there are; not letting you change lanes; trucks driving in prohibited lanes; … So I do my best to avoid the whole area on recent road trips.

  19. eccsame says:

    Easy, just do maths with the clock dog and problem solved.

  20. Sean says:

    There is a fairly new toll road in Maryland that is EZPass only. There are no toll booths. There are signs at all the entrances that state that though.

    The E-470 in Denver does not have toll booths any more. They just record your license plate and then send a bill to the registered owner for the tolls. Of course if you don’t pay then you can’t register your car again until they are paid.

    • madanthony says:

      The MD Connector does do “video tolling” (ie they mail you a bill) if you don’t have EZ-Pass. Rates are higher, though, to discourage it:

    • Beef Supreme says:

      The MD Road is the ICC (Inter County Connector). It was built solely as a variable toll EZ Pass only road. I’ve never seen it be busy. It charges ~$3 to go between I-95 and I-270, and it cuts about 10-15 miles off the trip. They will mail you a bill if you have no EZ Pass, but it is MUCH more costly.

    • smarmyjones goes cattywampus says:

      I will never take E-470 again. It’s the easiest way to get to the airport, but the company that runs it is just horrible. We paid a bill a few days late once online and assumed we paid everything that we owed (including late fees.) Unbeknownst to us, not all of the tolls had posted at the time. We were never informed afterward that anything more was due until months later we got a collections letter from a law firm demanding 3x the amount of the toll plus late fees. Trying to argue with the law firm got us nowhere, so we went straight to the company. In the end we ended up paying only the actual amount of the toll, but these issues are still going on. The company even had the Government looking into it. I don’t know if anything has been resolved. Google E-470 complaints and there are many.

  21. dragon:ONE says:

    Our local international bridge has a tollbooth. If you don’t have money you have to tell the toll operator who hands you a clipboard you fill out. Then they mail you a bill. And it holds up traffic, even at 10 at night.

    //work at the duty free shop past the tollbooth and don’t have to pay the toll
    //toll guy got out of the booth and opened up the gated commuter pass only lane to let me by him

  22. euph_22 says:

    Since the only safe thing to do is go forward, you go forward. If there were any legal consequences you can try to argue your way out of them later. Reversing down the shoulder of the highway is reckless, and illegal.

    Anyways, after a quick google search, and found Florida Turnpike’s website explaining what to do if you can’t pay the toll:
    You go through the toolbooth, and you have 10 days to get your payment to them. If your driving a rental, you contact your rental agency and see what their policy is.

    • Portlandia says:

      This, I can’t believe nobody else has called out the OP for driving backwards on the shoulder of a highway the fact that they didn’t see any other cars is little consolation. It’s unsafe and idiotic.

  23. catskyfire says:

    What’s the point of toll roads?

    (I live in Nebraska, and haven’t encountered one yet.)

    • Portlandia says:

      Basically privatizing the maintenance and construction of roads.

    • kccricket says:

      Funds the maintenance of the roads with the money of the people that drive on them.

    • euph_22 says:

      Imagine if 95% of the people driving from Lincoln to Omaha were tourists. Would you rather pay for that road with YOUR taxes, or by charging a toll?

      Most toll roads aren’t quite that clear cut, but the basic idea is make the road users pay for the road system.

  24. Geekybiker says:

    Unmanned booths with no gate you should just drive through. Most toll systems you can call within 7 days and pay the toll on the phone if you miss one. Backing up like you did is the worst possible thing you could do.

  25. Portlandia says:

    Wow, backing at the shoulder of the road? Seriously? This was your ridiculously idiotic resolution to this simple problem? Back-up on the highway? Call 911, seriously????

    Come one people, you go through the toll booth and call the number the following day and give them your license plate and tell them you want to pay your toll. You don’t back-up on a highway endangering yourself and other drivers because you get confused and certainly don’t freaking call 911. Every 2 year old in America is smart enough to know that 911 is for emergencies, life and death etc and is certainly not for “I’m a dolt who doesn’t know how to handle a toll booth.”

  26. abeja says:

    I have one solution for this: *FHP, When they arrive, tell them then you were stranded even though you weren’t. I am sure he will do more than assist you.

  27. becina says:

    Most toll collectors provide a way to for you to pay after the fact, either by sending it in or paying on line.

  28. Turks says:

    This used to happen to me when I would travel to Orlando for work. All the toll booths around the airport are change or ez-pass only, and by the end of my trip, I was often out of change. With an early morning flight, no one was manning the booth either.

    My solution was to hold up a dollar bill and just drive through, as if to say “I WOULD have paid you…” Never got a bill from the rental car company. A resident told me you get two “whoops” moments before the fines come, so I chalk it up to that.

  29. icerabbit says:

    I have been caught of guard too in the greater Orlando area, without exact coins for toll booths; so now I always fly & drive with a few dollars worth of quarters on me and will ask at manned toll booths to break a note or two for upcoming toll.

    Instead of backing up, look around where you can get a receipt; there should be a small envelope holder, with some envelopes that allow you to fill out some essential info regarding time, car, tag that allow you to mail in a dollar (or whatever) to the toll authority; which will avoid you getting a ticket.

  30. Rubberduckgrrl says:

    Sorry dude. Welcome to Vermont! No billboards, lots of fresh air, few modern conveniences, and much of the state rolls up at 5PM. Don’t’cha just love it? (Yes, I am a Vermonter.)

  31. cactus jack says:

    “At the situation, I considered calling 911 to let them know of our stranded vehicle in booth 3, but dialed 411 and asked for the Florida Turnpike company.
    After being rerouted the machine told me to call back between 9 and 5.

    No cars had passed in the last ten minutes, and I started backing at the shoulder of the road, ready to halt if a vehicle came by.”

    Holy crap… This is about as “facepalm” as you can get.

  32. chimera1103 says:

    I live in Orlando. Every single unmanned toll station has a sign and envelopes explaining that if you are without change, to take the envelope, write a check and mail it in, with the approximate time of when you went through the station.
    As to “Burt Reynolds” comment below, I do believe there is an amount of freebies given, where you can run the toll, but do not receive a ticket. If you do this too much (I think several times a month), you will get tickets. But, be ware, I’ve heard of others having back-dated warrants out for them because of too many of these tickets, and having never received them in the mail. I think there’s a .gov website to see if you have outstanding tickets in Florida.

  33. donjumpsuit says:

    I might add that California has Fastrak and although they give you a toll tag, it’s not required and virtually unnecessary as long as your plate is registered with the account and visible. They used to allow motorcycles and carpools free during rush hour, but now it’s $2.50

  34. Reno Raines says:

    Backing up for a mile on the shoulder of a toll road. Dare I say, “female drivers, what are you going to do (besides try to make sure you don’t get annihilated by them on the road)? Amirite?”

  35. bnceo says:

    Somewhat blaming the OP here. If you are not new to rental cars, be aware that it’s highly encouraged that you bring a GPS with you that can veer you off tolled roads. With a rental car and tolls, it’s highway robbery (no pun intended). They will overcharge you to no end and it’s a hassle.

    • edman007 says:

      Thats not the issue, in many areas there are toll roads that let you get on with nothing and require that to take specific exits you HAVE to have ezpass. It doesn’t matter that you have $20 on you for tolls, you simply cannot get off at that exit with cash only, even if you were fully prepared to pay the toll, and the signs are not always clear about this (as often cash is ok sometimes).

      Oddly enough, I specifically remember FL528 being one of these roads when I was down at cocoa beach, the sign to get on says “528” in huge letters with “flordia state toll road” (or something to that effect) under it in tiny letters, and there is no toll to enter the road, it is not at all clear that the road requires a toll until you start passing exits that say “toll booth ahead”. I got very close to this happening, but I luckily had change in my car at the time (since it wasn’t a rental) and I had to get off the road and stop at an ATM after that toll to continue.

      I have always wondered how you get off these roads without an ezpass, it’s illegal to turn around, and illegal to go straight.

  36. Eremis77 says:

    I’ve gotten stuck at two toll booths at opposite sides of the country, both of them manned.

    In the bay area of California, a bridge that had no toll in one direction had one on my way home. I didn’t travel the route often so didn’t know this ahead of time. The booth only accepted cash or FastPass and I had neither, so the attendant took down my license plate number and told me to check the website for instructions. My options to pay the toll on the website were either buy a $50 FastPass card or pay an additional $20 processing fee. What a scam.

    In New Hampshire I hit a toll booth without cash again and no other payment processing was available. I was given a pre-printed envelope to mail in and had to pay an extra $5 or so. Much more reasonable.

  37. gabrewer says:

    In April we took a road trip to the Florida Keys. Our understanding was that in taking the turnpike around Miami, our license tag would be photographed as we passed through each toll station and we eventually would receive a bill in the mail — since we did not have an EZ pass. Have yet to receive any kind of bill. Does anyone know if Florida just gives tourists a “free pass” on something like this — or is it just a matter of bureaucratic incompetence actually working in my favor for once?

    • exit322 says:

      Hard to tell. I’ve driven the Tampa Crosstown (OK OK, Lee Roy Selmon) Expressway with its completely open road tolling, and got the $3 bill in the mail pretty soon thereafter.

    • MPD01605 says:

      It might be working in your favour.
      I drove a rental car from the Netherlands into Stockholm, which has a congestion charge during the day of US$1-3. They take a picture of your license tag and then bill you. But they can’t do that with foreign-registered cars. So free entry to Stockholm for us!

    • RandomHookup says:

      It’s extremely difficult for states to match up license plates these days. There are so many specialty plates that reuse plate numbers that there is a strong likelihood that someone else got the bill.

    • quail20 says:

      That sounds odd. What you usually get is a ticket, a fine for failing to pay the toll. Even if this is something that they do, the “bill” would have to have a hefty surcharge on it for them to go through the work of finding you.

      Don’t know about this day and age, but in the 90s the toll cameras set up to catch runners were always failing.

      • gabrewer says:

        We did not deliberately fail to pay the toll. The way the system is set up, at least according to a brochure we read at a rest stop on the turnpike, is that we had the choice of buying a window transponder (not logical as we were tourists) or just driving through and letting a camera capture our license plate number. Then we would get a bill by mail — yes with an additonal service charge added. We were not skipping out on the toll, just using what we understood to be a legitimate option.

    • drowse says:

      I suspect this may be the same way that the NTTA (North Texas Toll Authority) does their billing. You can either obtain a pre-paid TollTag or just have them mail the bill to you. But I believe the bill doesn’t send out until you hit a certain dollar amount (like $10 or something).

      • drowse says:

        Ah, and also I just remembered this too: NTTA has agreements with certain states to send bills. But some states they don’t. If you’re from Oklahoma.. You can drive around on the Dallas North Tollway, Sam Rayburn Tollway, George Bush Turnpike, etc without being billed.

  38. CRCError1970 says:

    Most rental cars in Florida have an EZ-Pass agreement. You just drive through the EZ-Pass lane even if the car doesn’t have a transponder installed. The EZ-Pass lane camera will take a photo of your license plate and when you return the car, your tolls will be attached to your bill.

    • M-D says:

      A clarification here: Florida toll facilities do NOT use EZPass, which is the system used in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic (and as far west, I believe, as Illinois). Florida uses SunPass, which is based on different technology than EZPass, making the two systems incompatible.

      That said, SunPass is actually a lot more user-friendly for rental cars than EZPass, due in no small part to Florida’s huge tourism industry. You can purchase SunPass transponders (in the form of a ‘mini-tag’ or a sticker at retail (Publix, etc.) and access a special website designed for rental car users.

  39. longfeltwant says:

    I have no advice to the OP, but when I was a younger man I encountered a toll booth for one of the first times. The toll was one dollar, and I chose a line that said EXACT CHANGE because I indeed had exact change: a one-dollar bill, the exact amount of the toll. Call me naive, but I was actually surprised when confronted with nothing but a basked for coins. Oh, exact coinage? Because when I receive “change” for a cash purchase, that “change” includes both bills and coins, so I wasn’t really thinking that “change” meant exclusively coinage. So what did I do? Screw it, I just drove through. The city of New York never sent me a bill.

    • jumbojeepman says:

      Ahhh, the dual meanings of change. A few years back, when paying online wasn’t an option, but clerks were being phased out for machines I walked into my local phone company to pay my bill. All the tellers were gone, replaced with 3 machines. Affixed to the machines were signs stating ‘no change given’. I was like OK, the coin change can be applied to my next bill and I’ll get my dollars back. I insert 3 20’s (the only bills I had) for my 42 dollar phone bill and waited for my dollars back. After it became apparent I wasn’t getting my dollars back, I went to the sales area to raise a stink. This situation was particularly bad for me, as I had intended to use the other 18 bucks to pay part of my power bill.

      The sales guy and I got into a big argument, but I got no money back, just the knowledge that I had prepaid nearly 1/2 of my phone bill the next month. I wrote an e-mail to the president of Sprint, and never got a reply. When I went in the next month, however, there was a sign on the machine that no change or bills were returned, but you could break bills at the sales counter if needed. So they took out the tellers only to have you have to go to the sales clerk for change to use their machines, what genius thought that would be better? I started paying by mail after that, until they finally allowed online payments.

  40. ponycyndi says:

    Here in Texas, we only have the Ez-pass. That means if you don’t have a tag, then they snap a pic of your plates, and mail you a bill. Of course, the rate is higher if you don’t have the tag. We haven’t had anyone working the toll booths here for years.

    • SBR249 says:

      E-Zpass isn’t available in Texas

      • trenton.ray says:

        We have 3 different systems in Texas, TxTag, TollTag, and EZ Tag. They’re all interchangeable and work the same way. Point being, it’s easy to get the names screwed up.

      • drowse says:

        I think ponycyndi may mean around DFW. Austin, San Antonio and Houston have different systems but they’re all starting to be linked together.

      • SecretAgentWoman says:

        I think he meant an EZPass-type system. We call it TollTag or TxTag here. Paying by camera/license place is called Zip Cash.

  41. shwaa says:

    Last summer on our usual trip to Florida they ended up billing us $4 for a $1 toll for passing through the EZ-pass lane with the rental car. I’m pretty sure it was added on from the rental car company.

    If I were in OP’s shoes I’d probably just pass through and pay the extra fee and just remember to have change next time.

  42. yankinwaoz says:

    I got lost leaving the Newark airport and ended up on a toll highway that I think would have taken me to Atlantic City. I had no idea where I was. So I did a U turn through a cut, and ended up at a maned toll booth. The guy in the toll booth looked really ticked and charged me $35 for driving 2 blocks. What a screwed up system.

    • chefboyardee says:

      Makes perfect sense. You should have gone to the next exit, through the toll booth, and then turned around. Otherwise, everyone would say they did what you did, “lose their ticket”, and nobody would ever pay. The system is fine; you’re doing it wrong.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      If you were leaving Newark heading towards Atlantic City, that would be the Garden State Parkway (Or perhaps the NJ Turnpike), and yes, NJ reams you if you reverse direction on their toll roads, since the only way to physically do that is to use a law enforcement turnaround, which is highly illegal…

    • M-D says:

      The only toll road that connects directly to Newark Airport is the NJ Turnpike, which is a ticketed system. It says very clearly on the ticket “NO U-TURNS”. You chose to ignore the instructions and make an illegal u-turn – the maximum toll charge is the consequence for your decision.

      By contrast, if you got on at either exit 13A or 14, the next exit would have been no more than 2 miles away, and you could have very easily reversed course using surface streets.

      And for the record, JonBoy470 is right – the only highway that passes anywhere close to EWR that goes to AC is the Garden State Parkway, but there’s no direct link from the airport – you’d have to follow US-22 to get there. And the GSP isn’t ticketed, so u-turns are easier.

  43. Rick Sphinx says:

    If you can, just drive through. It’s a toll, not like your going to get arrested for it. Drive thru, call an call first thing in the morning and tell them, hopefully avoiding any added fee’s.

  44. ladyilea says:

    I don’t think that this helps at all because you were at an unmanned toll booth and had a rental. However, sometimes when my husband and I used to drive semi cross country, we’d run out of money leaving New York City and crossing New Jersey to get to our inbound money in PA. A few times, we had to leave items like tires or such with a toll booth worker so that we could get through. It was at this time, that I began to keep a little money back and I would hoard about $60.00 without my husband’s knowledge. It’s a habit I’ve kept up. I just never wanted to be stuck again without the necessary money to get back. You might try keeping change in your car for tolls and such or if, as here, it’s a rental, just keep a bag of change in your purse when you travel. For a car toll, a few dollars should do it, or next time, you might call the highway patrol. They could actually help. In fact, it used to be in their charter as they were started to help travellers on the highway and this would certainly qualify. Good luck!

  45. deadandy says:

    This happened to me in Chicago. I had rented a car and, on my way back to O’Hare, I took the exit to return the car and suddenly I was confronted with two choices: 35 cents exact change, or EZPass. I actually pulled over before the booths to ponder the situation, eventually decided to just go through the EZPass lane. All the lights and cameras lit up like the 4th of July as I went through.

    I returned the car and never heard a peep about it.

  46. quail20 says:

    My first experience with this kind of problem was in Illinois before the EZ-Pass was ever around. I knew I was on a toll road heading out of Chicago, a road I’d traveled before. Since I’d traveled it before I expected manned stations to take my bills if the need arose. But when I got to my exit, which was a bedroom community on a new section of the toll road, there wasn’t a manned booth. Only a basket for change. I sat there for a good 5 minutes rummaging around my travel bag for loose coinage and came up a dime short. Throwing what I could in the basket, I cursed the tollway authority and drove through with the light blinking and the bells ringing I hadn’t paid enough.

    I blame the toll authority in these cases. There should be a sign when you’re coming up to the last manned toll both. (Thank goodness for EZ-Pass. Glad to have it.)

    • energynotsaved says:

      Way back in the 1970s, I was in Arlington Heights and headed back into Chicago. I needed a small sum (a quarter or fifty cents, I think), and had NOTHING. I stopped at a gas station. Told the guy my problem. He cashed a $1.00 check for me. After that, I started keeping some change in the car….

  47. Takoma says:

    I’ve only had two weird tollbooth situations.

    1) Passing through Ohio, about 10 hours into a 16 hour drive by myself, I realized I had no cash or coins for a tollbooth. I had to write a check (for, like $2.00). That required also handing over my driver’s license. Which I then drove away without. Didn’t even realize it, I was so tired. Two weeks later I was shocked to get my license in the mail from the state of Ohio. I hadn’t even missed it.

    2) Rented a car out of Logan Airport. Went to get on the interstate and came up to a series of tollbooths. My experience had always been that cash lanes would either be in the center or on the right. Nope. On the left. And there was little signage until it was too late. I wound up in an EZ-pass lane. Immediately there was a honking line of five or six cars behind me. I just had to drive through. This must be a common event. When I told the rental people, they said they’d pass the ticket onto me. But when I went on the Mass. DOT website, there was actually a form you can fill out FOR THAT SPECIFIC TOLLBOOTH. Apparently, the first time that you go through the EZ pass by mistake, they let you off. I filled out the form (with contact information and an offer to pay the toll) and that was that.

  48. Ed says:

    Same thing happened to me in CA a few years ago. It was easy to fix.

    1) drive right through the toll.
    2) make a note of the license plate on the car you are driving.
    3) make a note of the exact time and location of the toll(s) you are blowing through
    4) call the toll company (can look up on the interwebs) during business hours.

    I gave that info to the lady on the other end and she pulled the video/camera footage and said “yup, there you are” and took my credit card info over the phone and emailed a receipt.

    I am not so sure they would be as forgiving for a resident, but as a visitor that had no idea I was on a toll road until it was too late they had no problem helping me with it.

  49. valleygirl_18002 says:

    So here’s the info regarding toll violations for the FL Turnpike:


    From my personal experience (I live the in the Central Florida area):
    The rumor has always been that you can run up to 3 tolls per month without instance. In addition, if you do receive a toll violation and it is an unmanned booth like the OP describes, you can easily fight it and win.

    When I moved to FL in ’06 I ran into a similar situation, and ended up running the toll as I didn’t have change. I never received a violation letter and was later informed by others (including a relative who works in law enforcement) about the 3-run “rule” as well as fighting violations at unmanned booths.

  50. Nobby says:

    France’s toll roads issue you a ticket when you first get on the road. Each exit has a booth where you stop, turn in your ticket, and pay a fee is based on how far you traveled. When I got to my exit I handed in my ticket.

    To my surprise, I was fined for speeding when they calculated how far I traveled. They knew I was speeding because I traveled 135 kms in a hour on a road that had a 110 km/hr limit. You see, each ticket is imprinted with the time it was issued. D’oh!!!!

  51. C. Ogle says:

    This happened to me in Houston yesterday where all of the major highways have toll road entrances and exits interspersed with free roads in a confusing maze. I’m sure the people behind me in the change lane didn’t mind waiting while I put my car into park and dug around my floor for the $.75 for my mistaken turn, but fortunately I dug it up and got through.

    I’m not sure what I would have done if I didn’t have the change lying around. Both the ez pass and exact change lanes at the exit were unmanned, had lots of traffic ,and had a solid metal bar go down that prevented passage unless I paid the fee or flashed my pass.

  52. dush says:

    It’s too bad tolls are in the middle of a road and not just at each on ramp.
    Or they could at least put up big signs before you’re about to get on a toll road.

  53. JonBoy470 says:

    I’d have run the toll without even thinking twice. Oooh, you set off an alarm bell. You can’t see it, but that’s my “I don’t give a crap” face. In the EZPass system, all the booths have video monitoring of all the toll booths. Mainly it’s a back-stop against cars with faulty transponders (hence why EZPass requires you to link your account to specific vehicles)

    It’s also used for toll enforcement when someone without EZPass runs the toll. In which case they just send you a bill in the mail (possibly with service charge/penalty).

  54. officialsponsor says:

    I took a wrong turn and ended up at a toll booth in the Baltimore area with no cash or coins. The booth attendant was (surprisingly) pleasant and told me to drive on thru and the camera would take a photo of my license plate and they’d send me a bill. Sure enough, a couple weeks later I received a bill for the $2, which was the toll, no extra fees.

  55. Patriot says:

    It amazes me how many people think 911 is what you call for non emergency situations. Some states have had such problems with ignoramuses calling 911 for a cat that’s up in a tree and the like that they’ve started billboard and radio advertising to show them the non emergency police phone number.

    • I look at both sides of the story says:

      “It amazes me how many people think 911 is what you call for non emergency situations. ”

      Some law-abiding citizens panic when they are caught in a no-win situation like having no money at a toll booth and don’t want to break the law.

      This happened to me twice (but I didn’t call 911). Once was when my one and only quarter dropped on the ground and I couldn’t find the coin. Lots of honking horns behind me and I flipped out. Attendant waved me through.

      The other time the toll machine wouldn’t accept my legal coin (machine broken?). I just sat there (with honking horns) until I was waved through.

      Yeah, I would have called 911 if I was in an area where I didn’t know the non-emergency number and the toll wasn’t manned. It’s all too easy to be arrested nowadays for the most minor crimes. This ignoramus would rather call 911 then take the chance of being arrested.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      Pull up on the reins of your high horse, there, pardner! In these parts if you call the non-emergency police number it gets routed directly to 911 a times.

      So when my whacky neighbor let her dogs out to bark the neighborhood awake at 0400, I called the non emergency number and got the 911 operator. Not quite functional yet, I mumbled an apology and hung up to dial the non emergency number again.

      I felt severely unworthy calling 911 about a noise/animal control issue, but that’s how it works here. This is not a small back end of nowhere town either.

      For a second incident, it went to 911 in the middle of the day on a Saturday. I don’t have to call the police often enough to know if this is just the norm, but it may well be.

  56. Cacao says:

    One time I was taking the metro in Montreal and there were no ticket machines and there was nobody in the ticket booth. I didn’t know what to do. Finally someone came by and I asked him what I should do. He replied ‘ride for free’.

  57. Jay911 says:

    While vacationing in Ontario (Canada), I have taken a number of times the toll freeway which crosses the province. I did so in a number of different rental cars over the years, and all that happens is the system photographs “my” plate, bills the rental car company, and they add it to my bill.
    In Australia, I hit several toll roads in New South Wales and Queensland. All I had to do was go online and fill out a form within 3 days of (i.e. after) passing through the toll, and the amount was billed to my credit card.

    Put another way: There are still places where you have to actually stop and pay at a gated toll booth?

    • HalOfBorg says:

      Yes. “throw the money into the bucket” type near Pittsburgh Airport. Also has Easypass.

  58. CrackedLCD says:

    What an incredible scam! I once drove a rental through an EZ-Pass type toll in Chicago due to being confused by massive amounts of construction going on. The EZ-Pass lanes were actually separate from the manned tolls and you had to exit ahead of time to choose and I chose wrong.

    Luckily the toll authority up there didn’t charge anything extra. I was able to pay it online through my non-smartphone, even, while in the hotel room. If they’d tacked on a $50 charge I’d have been spitting nails.

  59. sarahthedriver says:

    Hi, I’m Sarah as mentioned in the article.

    I do agree on the comments that I never should have backed up, and rather just passed and fighted the charge later on.

    It’s not a proper argument that I was afraid of both heavy charges from the rental company since I wouldn’t be able to pay the SunPass company (they ask you not to mail cash, and being a foreigner we dumped the checks back in the 90’s), nor that any cruiser would inquire and possibly be angry for us just being stranded. It was a decision of the moment…

    I’m also happy that this isn’t a rare situation, and will of course go out of my way to get proper coin change at the earliest opportunity the next time we’re around. Perhaps I expected a note to coin change machine or a card reader, or at least a telephone number or instructions on how to progress if unable to present coins.

    I also agree 911 is being misused a lot, but again, being a foreigner I hadn’t knowledge of anywhere else to go (only remembering 411 from contemporary music…). Later I discovered I could dial *FHP to get the Florida Highway Patrol.

    Would anyone kindly let me know the telephone number for the Florida police in non-emergency? And would the FHP be a non-emergency line as well? I’ll be sure to store it for future situations.

    Thanks again to all posters, I really wanted and needed some community feedback.

    • emjay says:

      I get that the average person or tourist doesn’t really care but it doesn’t hurt for “locals” to get their terms and agencies straight… I get aggravated when people use the wrong terms and company names.

      There is a state agency “Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise” which actually runs a road called, wait for it, “Florida’s Turnpike.” ( Other roads are run by regional expressway authorities. In this case, it was the Orange County Expressway Authority. (

      “528 is a turnpike”
      Yes, 528 is a toll road, but not by the turnpike agency, see OOCEA above.

      “the machine only accepted coins or Ez-Pass”
      There is no “EZ-PASS” in Central Florida for the area you described it would be “E-Pass” I’ll grant you this mix up because even the local news doesn’t always get it right.

      Here’s the number(s) you wanted:

      Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority
      Ph: 407-690-5000

      SunPass Call Center
      1-888-TOLL FLA
      Local number:561-470-6650 Ext. 7501

      You were more likely to get ticketed for blocking the lane and endangering other people than for worrying about a $0.50 toll. You could call *FHP if you thought it was an emergency but – really? Don’t call law enforcement, proceed through normally and do a follow up call to work things out later.

      Hope the rest of your stay went well. Love Cocoa Beach!

  60. DZ says:

    OK, the secret’s out it’s the honor system :)

  61. HalOfBorg says:

    Been there. On 576 (?) going to Pittsburgh Airport. Plenty of money, no change. We searched the car, no dice. Then I noticed the machine has a coin return, so I thought to try pushing it, when I saw the coin chute there was simply LOADED with small change – way more than we needed.

    It was a quiet day so I checked the others real quick – jackpot. Came out way ahead AND left the needed 50 cents in each return – for the next poor, changeless soul.

    People must have learned because every time I go through there I look at the return and it is empty now.

  62. chargernj says:

    Just a tip for those who drive the Garden State Parkway. Never ever run the EZ Pass lanes unless you have a transponder. If you are without change and absolutly must skip paying the toll go through one of the “exact change” lanes. EZ-Pass lanes will take your picture and send you a ticket, exact change lanes do not.

    Of course that may have changed since I used to regularly drive the GSP.

  63. Cor Aquilonis says:

    Foolishness like this is why I always have $20 in quarters in my car. Then I’m prepared for coin-operated car washes, tolls, and meters. And vending machines. :)

  64. Chale74 says:

    SunPass offers a transponder sticker with bar code. Most rental car companies use them. Check winshield for it when renting a car in FL.

  65. 4Real says:

    I just drive though the EXPass lane and they send you a ticket just send it back saying you didnt have the change and there was no help.