Florida 's Turnpike toll system incorrectly issues tickets

| Monday, August 22, 2005

The zero-tolerance policy that motorists must endure for making toll mistakes on Florida ’s Turnpike probably doesn’t apply to the turnpike authority itself – but maybe it should.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, an unknown number of turnpike drivers have incorrectly received tickets and fines since the turnpike went to a zero-tolerance policy for drivers who pass through automated tollbooths without paying.

About 5,000 tickets were issued in July in Lake, Osceola, Orange and Seminole Counties . That was a sizeable increase from April’s total – one month before the zero-tolerance policy took effect – of 600 tickets, the Sentinel reported.

Previously, drivers were given two warning letters and up to three violations in a month before a citation was issued. Now, drivers have five days to correct any missed tolls that may be on their record.

Earlier this month, the turnpike announced that it had activated its two millionth SunPass transponder – a system that is supposed to be compatible with E-ZPass and O-Pass systems – in the four years since Florida launched the system.

However, the problem with the incorrect tickets seems to lie in SunPass’s interoperability with the other systems. If a dormant E-ZPass account is activated by a motorist and used on the same day, SunPass’s method of gathering information on E-ZPass accounts doesn’t catch the change.

The result? A ticket, for passing through the tollbooths with what appears to be an inactive account.

The glitch has caused some major problems with drivers, besides the abundance of incorrect tickets. According to the Sentinel, one woman was ticketed nine times in April and May, despite having money in her E-ZPass account. Another woman had her license suspended after she discovered and replaced a dead battery in her transponder, but forgot to call the turnpike to report the mistake.

“You don’t have a zero-tolerance policy unless you have a perfect system,” Bryan Douglas, a spokesperson for E-ZPass, told the Sentinel.

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