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2/5/2006
Texas: Arrest Warrant Issued Over 75 Cent Toll
Texas tollroad arrests two motorists over a total of $5.50 in alleged unpaid tolls.

Gail Blair
The North Texas Tollway Authority ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to issue a warrant for the arrest of motorist Gail Blair for the crime of skipping a 75 cent toll. Today, after five court hearings, Blair continues to fight the charge which she says resulted from one of the 4000 daily transponder misreads that plague the high-tech toll system.

"There's a possibility that I could be sent to jail over a 75 cent toll," Blair explained in an interview with WFAA-TV.

Blair regularly drives on the area's toll roads and pays an average of $1000 a year for the privilege. At the time of the alleged offense, Blair had both a working TollTag transponder and money in her account. Still, the tolling authority insists its equipment is not to blame for any error since they had sent warning notices to Blair. Those notices went to the wrong address, even though both the tolling authority and the state had Blair's correct address on file.

Instead, the tollway is asking Blair to pay $350 in fines over the alleged 75 cent infraction. Blair, who works at night and can attend trial during the day, refuses to give in.

"I don't care if they fine me a penny; I'm not guilty," she said. "I don't care if it's 75 cents, a dollar, a hundred dollars -- it doesn't matter to me."

Blair isn't alone. Eli Lucero was arrested and jailed on New Year's Eve because the tolling authority claims he didn't pay $4.75 in tolls in 2004. Lucero later discovered he was entirely innocent and the tolling authority had transposed the digits on his license plate. Still, because he couldn't afford to take time off to fight in court he paid $304.75 in fines just to put the matter to rest.

"I won't use the tollway any more," Lucero said.

Source: TollTag court: A driver's nightmare (WFAA-TV (TX), 2/4/2006)



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