Woman Who Hasn’t Visited Bay Area In 15 Years Forced To Fight 55 Toll Tickets For Bridges She Didn’t Drive Over

It’s annoying when you receive a ticket for something you never did, but you know what’s even more annoying? Getting 55 tickets in a year for that thing you never did. A California woman who says she hasn’t driven the five hours to the Bay Area in more than 15 years had quite the headache trying to deal with an avalanche of tickets she received from the local authority for not paying bridge tolls on bridges she never drove over.

The 74-year-old woman lives in northeast California, and says she started getting notices from the Bay Area Toll Authority — which is in charge of seven state bridges — accusing her of driving across those bridges without paying the toll.

She’s now received 55 violations, each one for a separate illegal bridge crossing, demanding she pay $30 on each in fees and evasion penalties, reports the Sacramento Bee. Only thing is, she hasn’t crossed those bridges in 15 years.

She noticed when she looked at the notices that the photo of the license plate on the car is similar to hers, but it has the letter “U” where her car has a “1”. Plus, she drives a pickup and the photo is of a white sedan.

It took her more than 10 conversations with the BATA over the last year, she says, with several FasTrak customer service reps agreeing that the vehicle in the photos didn’t belong to her. Though those reps promised to annul the citation and flag her license in their system, the tickets kept coming. As of two weeks ago, she’d received yet another.

She even procured a letter from toll officials to take to the Department of Motor Vehicles so she could get a lien removed from her pickup, in order to re-register it.

The flood of tickets may be stemmed now, after she called the office of state Sen. Ted Gaines for help. His office fired off a letter to the toll authority.

“I am deeply concerned that FasTrak continues to incorrectly issue tickets to my constituent, who happens to be a senior citizen, and a cancer survivor, and someone who does not need to be harried by an automated system,” Gaines wrote.

Since then, BATA and a FasTrak spokesman have apologized. The spokesman said that that sometimes the automated system makes a mistake, but that this long-running debacle may have been the dispute that stretched out the longest. According to FasTrak, the system failed her twice: its optical license plate recognition system misread two license plates as hers, and customer service workers just failed to flag her license plate.

He offered an apology, adding, “There is no excuse. This went on far, far too long. We simply did not follow our own procedures.”

The driver received a “toll dismissal” letter from FasTrak this week, saying that the “inefficient handling of your toll dispute” is not typical.

Still, she’s a bit disgruntled: the letter didn’t explain what happened, or state that all tickets had been dismissed, and it didn’t outline what steps the agency will take to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“There isn’t even a (signature) on the letter,” she noted. In any case, it’s not like she’ll be heading back to the Bay Area any time soon.

“I love San Francisco. But if I never go back, I don’t care anymore,” she told the Bee. “Nuh uh. It’s not worth the hassle.”

California woman erroneously cited 55 times for Bay Area toll violations [Sacramento Bee]

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