If you’ve ever received a ticket for something you didn’t do, you know it’s a pain to dispute it. A Sacramento driver called Kurtis after getting more than a dozen FasTrak tickets she swears she doesn’t deserve.
“The mailman just drove past and I’m thinking, ‘Oh no,’” said Debbie Cearley.
She is not afraid of the mailman, she just dreads finding FasTrak tickets in her mailbox.
After checking her mailbox she mutters, “Thank God.”
No tickets came on this day, but over the past two years, she’s received 16 toll violations. Each asks for $27.50 or more.
Cearley swears she’s only been to the Bay Area once in the past couple years, and she paid the toll.
“Don’t have any desire,” said Cearley, “I don’t really like the Bay Area, it’s too much traffic.”
Most of the pictures on the violations are blurry, but a few clearly show it’s not Cearley’s car.
“The plate in the picture has an ‘H’ and my plate has an ‘M’,” said Cearley.
A couple violations even include a picture of the back of the car, which show the car driving through the toll plaza has two brake lights on each side of the car. Cearley’s car only has one on each side.
Cearley has been able to contest each ticket and get them dropped, but frankly, she says it’s a big pain.
“I’m thinking about trading in my car because I want different license plates,” said Cearley.
“The FasTrak system works flawlessly 99.9 percent of the time. But that does leave one-tenth of one percent,” said FasTrak spokesman John Goodwin.
Goodwin says a computer reads toll violation pictures and if the software isn’t 98 percent sure it read the plates right, a real person will take a look. Goodwin said a person did review all of Cearley’s violations, but most were still hard to read.
“Thanks to you contacting us, we were able to identify a likely malfunctioning camera,” said Goodwin.
It turns out the person who was really racking up the violations had a FasTrak transponder with a bad battery. FasTrak has sent that person a new transponder and the tolls will be applied to their account. And FasTrak has now flagged Cearley’s plates in its system so she won’t be getting any more unwarranted tickets.
“It will be absolutely like the biggest burden lifted off my shoulders,” said Cearley.
Goodwin tells us the most common license plate mix-ups are Is confused with Ts and Es confused with Fs. Cearley’s H and M mix-up isn’t as common, but it does happen, he said.
If you get repeated tickets for violations you are not responsible for, you can call FasTrak, ask for a manager and ask for your license plate to be flagged so you’ll get further consideration if it happens again.