Cashless Toll Systems Send Tickets to Wrong Drivers

A new cashless toll system is causing problems for some Connecticut drivers who say they haven't been anywhere near a toll.

In June, Judy Ruhm received a ticket after somebody else driving a Honda passed under a tolling gantry at the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York without an EZ Pass transponder.

"I hadn't been out of state and it said 'New York and New Jersey' and I hadn't been there since 2012," Ruhm said.

The traffic camera had snapped a picture of the Honda and a bill was sent to Ruhm, who drives a Ford.

"It doesn't look like my Ford Edge and when I looked at it, It definitely was not a Ford," said Ruhm about the photo on the $5 ticket, that would eventually rise to $30.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters reached out to the New York State Thruway to find out more.

A spokesperson said, "the license plate that passed under the tolling gantry was misread," leaving Ruhm holding the bag.

Cashless toll systems are popping up across the country, even for people without an EZ Pass transponder.

License Plate Recognition Technology processes images from traffic cameras and the owner of the car is sent a ticket, unless the pictures aren't clear, like in Ruhm's case.

"The K, that is at the end of my license could be an X and it's not as clear as it could be," said Ruhm.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters reached out to Xerox, the company the New York State Thruway said processed Ruhm's ticket to find out more about how these mistakes happen but, they declined to comment.

However, a spokesperson for the New York State Thruway said just this year, 3,600 license plates were misread. That’s a very small percentage of the cars going through, but still frustrating for anyone wrongly getting a ticket.

In October, the Massachusetts Turnpike also went cashless.

If a driver doesn't have an EZ Pass transponder, they can expect a ticket in the mail from their "Pay By Plate" program.

A spokesperson for the Mass DOT said a company called Transcore will process their electronic toll tickets.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters learned Transcore has already been operating the cashless toll system for the Florida and Pennsylvania Turnpikes. In Florida 194,000 tickets were reversed due to plate misreads from January 2015 to October 2016.

On the back of the toll ticket is information about how to dispute it for certain circumstance and states ask for very specific paperwork to prove drivers really don't owe the ticket. However, a New York State Thruway spokesperson advises people to call customer service if it is not their car on the ticket that has been mailed out.

Connecticut doesn't have tolls on its highways, but state police said residents driving in other states should take a close look at any ticket sent to them. 

"Is that your license plate? Is that your state?" said Trooper Kelly Grant. "You know you are going to look at it, you are going to know if that is your license plate or not."

Grant also said there are also fake tickets that scammers send to try to steal money from unknowing residents.

Ruhm's ticket was eventually reversed by the New York State Thruway.

Contact Us