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Driver Racks up $3,000 in 520 Toll Fines

Some motorists are fighting the fines in a new toll court – but don’t expect much leniency.

A driver says confusion between her and her son over who was paying the electronic toll bills on the state Route 520 bridge led to fines of more than $3,000 for 65 crossings.

According to a report in The Seattle Times, the 64-year-old Kirkland went to a new state toll court to fight the bill, but ended up paying the fines anyway.

The driver admitted to making mistakes, but told the Times: "It's a new system, and I think we [institutions] sometimes get simple-minded when we design systems in the beginning. … I don't think it's people-friendly."

There are no toll booths on 520. , either through a pre-paid Good to Go transponder installed in a car, or through a bill in the mail after cameras record the vehicle's license plate. The state , and there is a schedule of escalating penalties for people who don't pay up.

What do you think of the payment system for electronic tolling on 520? Does it work for you? Have you dealt with fines or been to toll court? Let us know what you think in the comments.

The new toll courts allow drivers to challenge their bills. But, the Times reports:

By law, toll-court judges cannot reduce or dismiss a motorist's penalty, unless they rule that a toll or a fine was charged incorrectly. This makes toll court less flexible than municipal courts, where folks with a compelling story might sway a magistrate.

"We want to collect the tolls," says Craig Stone, toll director for the state Department of Transportation. "We have enforcement, to be fair to the people who pay the tolls."

The current peak toll is $3.59 if paid through a Good to Go pass, or $5.13 if paid by mail, according to WSDOT's Toll Rate schedule. If the woman who was fined $3,000 had paid the 65 tolls on time, the bill would have been under $350.

Evelyn White August 29, 2012 at 02:33 AM
The rates are way too high and I have boycotted 520 since they started.
Venice Buhain August 29, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Evelyn, I think a lot of people feel the same way. Do you take I-90 now, or do you just avoid crossing the lake? Most of the time, I can take I-90 instead of SR-520, because I live right between the two. But when I've taken 520, it's smooth sailing across the bridge because no one else is there. I wonder how that will change if/when tolls on I-90 will come in the future.
JuliaZ April 24, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I am so glad that we are tolling 520! And I hope we start tolling I-90 also. I don't cross the bridges very often, but when I do, I don't mind paying for the facilities I use, facilities that desperately need the rebuild that 520 is getting. Why do people think it's OK for ferry riders to pay 70% of the cost of transporting them (global average for ferry systems is just under 50%) when gas tax pays for less than 33% of road construction and repair costs? Seems like the gas tax should double, or ferry riders should get a big break, if we're going to subsidize all methods of transport equally.
S7000 April 28, 2013 at 11:36 PM
It's not about paying the tolls. It's about the fines. I just found out I owe nearly 500! I only cross the bridge for my kiddos doc visits. Anyway I have been attempting to get a good to go pass on their website at least 3 times now and it breaks at the last step after 20 mts of entering all my info Cc etc . Calling and going to a location is not possible for me for various reasons. I am very mad that there is no limit on the fines nor is there a process for leniency. People who are juggling a lot of balls and are at their limit are the ones who might delay payments and this just makes their life much harder. Way to go ...to fleece the 99 percent....
S7000 April 28, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Also I am going to try and boycott the bridge altogether , I am sure the east side could use my business a lot more. Maybe someone should start a boycott the bridge movement I really have no option, I can't get a pass without jumping through hoops and my paycheck is going towards feeding the bridge troll instead of my kids

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