Call Kurtis: What To Do If You’re Caught Without Cash At The Toll Bridge

Drivers who get stuck in the wrong lane at a bridge toll end up stiffed with a $25 fine from FasTrak.

We have heard from people who made the mistake of getting in the FasTrak lane when they meant to be in the cash lane. One viewer told us she pulled over trying to pay, only to be told it was too late and she’d receive a fine in the mail. Others don’t realize you need to carry cash.

But Call Kurtis uncovered how you may be able to get out of a pricey ticket.

“We went to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for the first time. We had never been there before,” said Susan Larson.

It was a fun trip for her and her boyfriend. But rarely ever going to the coast, they say they didn’t know they would have to pay a toll coming home at the Benicia Bridge.

“We didn’t go through any toll bridges on the way there, so we assumed on the way back we wouldn’t go through any,” she said.

They didn’t have cash and the bridge doesn’t take checks or credit, so the attendant told her just drive through.

“She told me there’d be a fee for not paying, but I didn’t know exactly how much it was going to be,” said Larson.

It turns out it was a $25 fee on top of the $5 toll that came in the mail a week later.

“‘Toll evasion,’ made me sound like a criminal! $25 for toll evasion. I couldn’t believe it,” said Larson.

“If you don’t have any cash, just go through the toll plaza. You’ll receive a violation notice. There’s room on there for a written explanation,” said FasTrak’s John Goodwin. ‘

He says if you’re caught in that situation and you’re not a repeat toll evader, just explain you were caught without cash.

“I think the chances are excellent that the customer service staff will dismiss the violation,” said Goodwin.

It worked for Susan. After writing a letter to FasTrak, they waived her $25 penalty and are now asking for just the $5 toll.

“As often as I go to the Bay Area, I think I’ll just keep five bucks in my wallet for the next trip,” said Larson.

Even if you don’t live in the Bay Area the FasTrak recommends drivers get a transponder. They are free and linked to your bank account. Any money left on your device gets refunded when you return it.

More from Kurtis Ming
Comments

One Comment

  1. Kurtis Ming – I too have been a victim of Fastrak, from the Benito-Martinez Bridge. One daughters had a baby in Davis. Two days later my family drove up from Monterey to see her. First time driving over the bridge, and ended up in a Fastrak/Cash pane with “No attendant”. I called Fastrak, got the address, and mailed in the $5.00. Later I got a notice in the mail demanding $30.00. I called again, and was told that the $5.00 check that had cleared my Chase account, had not been applied to my “toll evasion account”. The rep. said he would call me back in a week. That didn’t happen. So I call back again, again. Two months after going over the bridge, the $5.00 was finally applied to my account. Again, I was told not to worry about the other charges since it was there fault. A year later, at the Davis DMV, I find out there’s a DMV hold because of this toll evasion charges AND a wrongful SF parking citation I got for using my Disability Placard in front of a broken meter! This state is out of control!! The DMV wants me to pay an additional $250 following city/county laws! Still can’t get my 2017 tags.

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