ORLANDO (CN) – A defect in transponders used for Florida’s E-Pass and SunPass automatic tollway payment systems has caused thousands of innocent commuters to be fined for failing to pay tolls, a class action claims in Orange County Court.
Defendants are the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, which runs the E-Pass system, and the Florida Turnpike Authority, which runs the SunPass system. Both systems are supposed to automatically debit pass-holders’ accounts.
Plaintiffs say the defendants knew or should have known of a defect in the transponders, which caused commuters to be “issued violations for failure to pay the toll fees when in fact their accounts had sufficient balances to pay the tolls. As a result, the plaintiff and other class members were forced to pay fines in excess of what the individual toll would have cost.”
One innocent driver, a firefighter, was fined $3,000 and had his driver’s license suspended and almost lost his job because of it, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Apparently, the batteries die on the transponders, and the tickets ensue.
Attached to the lawsuit is an April 23 story from the Orlando Sentinel that begins, “An irate judge wiped the books Tuesday of several thousand citations handed out to drivers accused of skipping tolls because their dashboard transponders malfunctioned. Circuit Judge John Galluzzo accused the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority and Florida Turnpike Authority of making traffic offenders out of innocent E-Pass and SunPass customers whose tolls fail to record as they pass through electronic plazas. He took the unprecedented step of barring both agencies from issuing toll citations in Seminole and Brevard counties to drivers who have prepaid or credit-card accounts.”
The article estimates that the system makes 24,000 errors every month. The Seminole County Court Clerk told the Sentinel that Judge Galluzzo’s ruling would affect 7,000 to 8,000 illegitimate tickets in that county.
Plaintiffs are represented by Justin Presser with Weiss Legal Group of Maitland, Fla.