SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) — Toll roads, which make up 20 percent of the highways in Orange County, Calif., collect millions of dollars in illegal fines by failing to warn when a transponder is needed, a frustrated driver says in a class action.
Ebrahim E. Mahda sued the Transportation Corridor Agencies dba The Toll Roads on Tuesday in Federal Court. The agency is a joint powers authority legislatively created to build and operate Orange County’s toll roads.
Mahda claims that “these toll roads are operated in a manner that misleads the public, in violation of California law. In particular, the roads themselves are poorly marked, and unsuspecting consumers are subject to improper and unlawful fines because their cars are not equipped with an electronic toll paying transponder known as FasTrak.”
The offending highway include State Routes 73, 133, 241, and 261, Mahda says.
He was nailed on Route 73 last November, without a FasTrak transponder, and says he did not know he needed one. Two weeks later he received notice in the mail of a $6 for each violation, with recurring penalties of $57.50 if he did not pay by Jan. 9.
By the time he could pay the fine, Mahda says, he owed $232.
FasTrak devices are mounted on windshields and communicate with toll-charging and ticketing machines as they pass. Mahda claims that drivers like him are fined for evading tolls though they had no idea, or fair warning, that they were doing so.
The Toll Roads did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
Mahda seeks class certification, an injunction, restitution and disgorgement of at least $5 million in improperly collected fines.
He is represented by Michael Flannery with Cuneo, Gilbert & Laduca of St. Louis, who did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
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