Man gets toll violations for a bridge he didn't use

July 5, 2011 9:11:27 PM PDT
No one wants to pay someone else's bridge toll, but that's what a San Jose man felt like he was being asked to do. He kept getting someone else's toll violations on his account, so 7 On Your Side stepped in to help.

This is not the first time something like this has happened and it's likely not going to be the last. It's a problem that the Bay Area Toll Authority really doesn't have a solution for.

Drew Pult of San Jose has learned to go with the flow, so to speak. He's been paralyzed since a viral infection put him in a coma back in college. Getting around isn't always easy, but he manages quite well. However, managing a problem with a bridge toll proved to be too much, so he came to 7 On Your Side.

"About a year and a half ago, March of last year, I started getting toll violation notices for a car that's not mine," said Pult.

The toll violations all occurred on the Dumbarton Bridge, a bridge he says he never uses. The violations came in bunches. He's called FasTrak, but weeks would pass and more bills for more unpaid tolls would arrive. Each time he called FasTrak admitted the mistake and said it would be taken care of, but the bogus violations kept piling up.

He received 15 violations in all over a 14 month period.

"It was pretty aggravating. I called them a few times. I sent them a letter and then I assumed it would stop," said Pult.

Security cameras snapped a picture of the violator's license plate. The violator's license is 4YDB248. Drew's plate is 4YDB218.

"The license plate is similar, but it's one number off," said Pult.

So what's the confusion? The Bay Area Toll Authority explains it this way in an email; the "camera system was reading the plate incorrectly. No manual review of the license plate was conducted because the program assigned a high confidence level for its automatic read."

Two years ago, 7 On Your Side did a story about a Danville family facing with a near identical FasTrak problem.

"The violations continued to mount and continued to mount," said Cindy O'Hare of Danville.

FasTrak told 7 On Your Side back then it was working with its contractor to fix the problem. Two years later, it says, "The easiest solution by far would be the elimination of license plate frames. The Bay Area Toll Authority has not proposed to do away with license plate frames."

However, it did finally take care of Pult's problem after being contacted by 7 On Your Side.

"You know what, if I wasn't a comedian with a higher standard of comedy, I might think it was funny," said Pult.

FasTrak says it has one million accounts in the Bay Area and that the automated system handles well over 99.9 percent of the transactions flawlessly. Of course at 7 On Your Side, we're concerned about that .1 percent.


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