CHICAGO (CBS) — A South Holland man was outraged after receiving a hefty bill for the Illinois Tollway, when he racked up more than $1,000 in fines and fees over only nine days of driving because of his simple mistake.
After more than 20 years of driving in the suburbs, the man said he could drive the Tri-State Tollway with his eyes closed. His pupils widened last month when a letter from the Illinois Tollway arrived in the mail.
“I open up this letter from the Illinois Tollway that says that they’re going to suspend my license because I owed them $1,100 or unpaid tolls in fees and fines,” he said. “Just knocked me to the ground when I saw that.”
The bill showed he missed 16 tolls in little more than a week, totaling $16.40 in unpaid tolls, but add on a $20 fine for each, and that balloons another $320. With late fees, his cost to avoid a suspended license skyrocketed to $1136.40.
“I’m happy to pay the $16.40, with no problem, because those were missed tolls; but to say I’m supposed to pay fines and fees, I’m not happy to pay that at all,” he said.
The Tollway isn’t apologizing. A spokesperson said they tried to reach the I-PASS user for months to communicate with him about a declined credit card linked to his I-PASS transponder. The agency provided a list of efforts reach him by email, phone, and post cards from Oct 31, 2018, through April 11, 2019, but he said he never received any of those warnings.
He said the Tollway explained they couldn’t reach him, because they didn’t have the proper license plate in the system.
The Tollway acknowledged that was true, but said the license plate mistake was “not relevant” to the toll violations themselves.
Officials said the man can request an administrative hearing, pay the bill, or make it all go away for a fee of only $125, an amount not listed anywhere on the bill.
“Do I say this is a corrupt system? It’s something that’s not right, period, in order for this system to try to take extra money out of a person like me,” the driver said.
Tollway officials said the $125 fee is “standard settlement for an I-PASS customer who makes a mistake in managing their account.”
To avoid ending up in the same mess, I-PASS users should make sure their credit card, license plate, and contact information are all up to date.