By Kurtis Ming

CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — Fed up, Lindsey Slinkard is fed up with the automated FasTrak system.

Charged a fine when she didn’t run the roll, she says FasTrak won’t fix an obvious mistake made by its cameras at the Benecia-Martinez Bridge.

Just how obvious?

“I was at work that day,” she said. “There’s no way I could have been on the bridge.”

When cars travel through the Bay Area Toll Authority’s FasTrak plaza, a camera snaps a picture of each license plate — and that’s how drivers are tracked and then charged.

But newly engaged Slinkard said she doesn’t have time to fight a $30 FasTrak ticket that isn’t hers.

“That was not me,” she said. “It’s not my vehicle.”

The car in the picture FasTrak attached to the bill had a Toyota license plate frame, while hers is sparkly without any such lettering.

And in the upper left part of the photo, the registration month appears to start with a “J,” — perhaps “JAN,” “JUN” or “JUL,” the abbreviations used by the DMV for the months of the year.

Her registration sticker, however, shows “MAY.”

But the photo appears to be her license plate number.

Fastrak rejected her appeal, just as it had in February on another toll evasion fine she received. Back then the agency reduced the fine to $5, which Slinkard simply paid to avoid the hassle.

This time she’s not backing down.

“I’m at a dead end,” she said. “This is it.”

“The system is reading this as an ‘F,'” said FasTrak spokesperson John Goodwin when Call Kurtis asked him to look at the photo.

The Bay Area Toll Authority now admits the mistake.

Goodwin said the license plate frame made an ‘F’ look like the ‘E’ on Slinkard’s license plate — which he said is the most common mixup the automated system makes.

Those automated mistakes cannot be fixed without an employees authorization, he said.

“There is a fraction of 1 percent that requires human intervention,” he said. “When these problems are brought to our attention, we address every one of them.”

He couldn’t explain why the agency didn’t address Slinkard’s apparent mistake on two occasions before Call Kurtis got involved.

FasTrak agreed to wipe out her fine and refund the $5 fine she paid in February as well, clearing the way for Slinkard to focus on her wedding.

“It feels good to know that they actually do care, and they’re willing to go back through and admit their mistake,” she said.

FasTrak’s error rate is less than 1 percent, according to Goodwin, but he admits that ends up being about 1,000 errors a day.

We were told drivers can request their plates be flagged if they encounter recurring problems like Slinkard did. They’ve now flagged her license plates for human verification before she receives any further tickets.


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