Friday, April 13, 2007

"What an interesting experience with Texas tollways!"


April 13, 2007

Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2007

I got a speeding ticket in Denver. Never been there. At least the tag number was one that used to be on my truck. Too bad it wasn't a Texas plate and it was a young blond woman driving. I had to send a copy of my license. I called the FBI because I thought it was a phishing scam — the ticket was only $35. They finally sent me a letter acknowledging it was not me, but told me to carry a copy of the letter should I ever come to Colorado!

Win Edwards, Houston

I got a notice saying a car registered to us had been running toll gates on the EZ tag lane near Denton. There was a photo of the car — not ours! The difference between our fine and yours was about $700 . Turns out that when my son picked up the plates for the car, he was given the wrong set. The right set was placed on another car, and that's who was running toll gates. When the mess was straightened out, the dealership sent a letter to the North Texas Transit Authority. The NTTA wasn't so nice in their response. They said, 'Send us the money and figure it out later.' Yeah, like that was going to happen.

Becky Moore, Katy

Welcome to the club. I had the same sorry experience trying to get them to take an incorrect toll of $1.50 off my record. I tried writing to them to have something for my records, but to no avail. No response, only more invoices with a penalty of $1 for late charges. Finally I gave up and paid them, and I am still mad about it.

Sonny Flores, Houston

I read your article about the Texas toll roads, and I'm still waiting to get a reply from them, too. I e-mailed the TxTAG authorities in Austin back in January. I asked them via their Web site and their "contact us" page whether my Harris County EZ tag could be used on the toll roads around Austin. As of today, I'm still waiting for a reply.

Jerry Wilt, Houston

What an interesting experience with Texas tollways! Mine was almost identical, except I "violated the law" only once — in Dallas. It stated that a white van with my license plate was phot ographed violating the EZ Pass lane. We own a metallic tan Buick Century sedan. Being in our 80s, neither my husband nor I can get into a van without help! I saved the notice I received, because every phone number I called to correct the error is on it! It shows a total of 12 numbers.

I wound up spending $4.64 to settle a $1.60 fine, but who knows how long I'd be hounded or how the unpaid "debt" could multiply?

Peg Glazer, Houston

I read your column on receiving a ticket for running a toll booth in a city you've never been to in a car you've never owned. I have a better one. I also received notice that I repeatedly ran toll booths on Beltway 8. TxDOT sent several of these notices, and I also made the calls to someone that couldn't help me. They even sent pictures of the car that I didn't own and the license plate that I didn't own. Here's the kicker. I live 1,000 miles away in St. Louis.

Bob Windish, St. Louis

I am currently involved in a similar situation with the North Texas Tollway Authority. In January, I received a letter from NTTA, along with a picture of a Honda , advising me that I owed $282.40 in unpaid tolls. I called the number listed and went through the numerous voice messages without ever talking to a human being. I faxed and e-mailed the NTTA informing them that I had traded this vehicle in February 2002 and no longer owned the car. I received an e-mail instructing me to send proof fr om the dealer of the trade. I faxed this information to NTTA and hoped this would end the mistaken identity case.

On April 2, I received a letter from Southwest Credit Systems in Plano. It's a debt collection agency, and it gave me instructions for paying immediately or face multiple traffic citations being issued with a fine of $250 per violation, plus a $25 administrative fee for each violation, plus court costs. I advised them in writing that I had forwarded the proof of trade to NTTA and asked them to remove my name from their list. I also reported this whole deal to the Harris County Sheriff's Department and was told they could do nothing since NTTA has its own police force.

My question is this: If they have a picture of this vehicle and the license plate number, why don't they simply stop this vehicle and take the driver to jail ? My concern is that they have my address and will probably arrest me.

Dan Smith, Huffman

A big thank you and a free Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone on Tuesday goes to Bill Dobson, the regional manager in Houston for TxDOT, and "Sherry in title registration" at Joe Myers Ford for straightening out my mess. A few years ago, someone with a similar name to mine bought a car, and the dealership put my information on his title form. Since they made the mistake, I may take back Sherry's ice cream cone.

The other guy allegedly ran a tollgate in Denton and I got his tickets. I'm starting to think the real problem is the tollgate — I'm getting a bunch of e-mails from people who also didn't run it — but still got tickets.

I hate to wreck someone's life, but if you've got a problem with TxDOT over tollgate tickets, Dobson is your man.

Here's the kicker: After all this, on Thursday I received a notice from TxDOT. They want me to pay $73.30 to register my ... Ford Taurus.


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