SunPass Billing Error Leads To $13,500 In Fines For Miami Driver

Categories: Road Rage
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In May 2009, Edgar Martinez, a 37-year-old who had just moved from Miami to California, received a letter from SunPass saying he owed $25 for a toll violation. Martinez paid the citation and closed his SunPass account, thinking that would be the last he heard from the traffic agency.

Unfortunately for his wallet, his SunPass nightmare was just beginning. A month later, he got a letter from the Florida DMV stating his license was about to be suspended. Confused, Martinez discovered that, because of an unspecified billing problem on SunPass's end, he had been cited 61 times for violations from January 26 through February 19. Those tickets added up to $13,500 in fines.

What's worse, he says, SunPass and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) kept him in the dark about the bills and then forced him to pay thousands for their mistake. "It's not fair I have to pay that much money for an error they made," Martinez says.

Chad Huff, a spokesman for Florida's Turnpike, says his agency is "extremely proactive" in alerting people about toll violations but couldn't speak specifically to Martinez's case. Calls seeking comment from MDX were not returned.

When Martinez flew back to Miami in July 2009 to deal with the problem, he found traffic court less than helpful. While Martinez was waiting for his case, an MDX employee approached and offered a deal: Pay for 30 of the tickets and the rest would disappear. Martinez initially declined, but when he stepped in front of Judge Thomas Cobitz, he quickly realized that option was his best bet.

"The judge said, 'What we'll do is call each ticket on its own, and you can say whether you're guilty or not,'" Martinez says. "He said, 'How do you plea on the first ticket?' I said, 'Not guilty,' so he said, 'I'm going to charge you as guilty and you'll get three points on your license. Want to go onto the next ticket?'"

Faced with the prospect of paying each ticket in full and a suspended license, Martinez took the MDX offer, agreeing to pay $3,900 in fines. To this day, he's still paying them in monthly installments -- until 2016.

Though it's too late to undo his mess, Martinez wanted to get his story out as a warning to other Florida drivers.

"If that happened to me," he says, "it's probably happened to a lot of other people."

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15 comments
wojo12dm
wojo12dm

I am in the same boat. I am in a monthly payment plan with the courts. I had my sunpass in the glove compartment and was paying tolls cash and since the device was on a negative it kept charging. I ignored the notice in the mail then thought they were sending duplicates to discover they were different from the times i paid the tolls. i had to get Alex Hanna who didn't help at all. Tickets were taken off but I had to pay court fees for each 30+ violations ($100+ each). Hanna also took a nice $1600 paycheck from me. My license was suspended if I was late for a payment and dropped from the payment plan and big deal to go back to court clerks and get back on it. State ripp off over $1 toll paying $3000+

SunpassMdcPOS
SunpassMdcPOS

your not the only one sunpass and mdx have a horrible system they charge you fee and when they tell u all ur fees have been paid off. MDX holds and starts assessing late fees. has come and says we sent u noticed so and so date but that bull crap they dont sent anything until the final notice.

LaLaLaLaLa
LaLaLaLaLa

There are loads of victims! Put out a search. I know of two! A smart lawyer would jump on this like white on rice.

mm2kay
mm2kay

I would have to back up this statement, when I first purchased my car. I had the temp tag that was associated with the new sunpass account. When I got the new plate. I forgot to change the association. Now this is where it comes in.You're driving through the tolls. You're thinking oh yea I got a sunpass sticker on the window. You're paying for things. Associated a credit card with the account to keep it full.But all isn't well when the system goes down on those tolls. They still take pictures of your plate when it's not communicating with the database, so they revert to toll by plate.Now my plate wasn't associated with my sunpass account.6 months later I got billed for administrative bills, and toll charges on the plate.I couldn't dispute it and put it on my sunpass account since they passed the 90 day limit. I believe MDX/Sunpass do this on purpose, but I didn't get hit with something this large. It was only <100$ I barely use the tolls, but either way. They should've audited this guys account, and plates, and billed him. The tolls rely on a network that when it goes down it reverts back to the toll by plate system, and then tries to match your plate with your accountWhich is flawed, since you could get a fake plate of someone with the same make/model car and have them pay your toll charges.

tiff
tiff

i believe they would do something like that. I was issued 5 tickets for toll violations over a year after going through the tolls. i never received any bill to pay them initially and they insist on sending everything to an address my car isnt even registered to. The only thing that was sent to the correct address was the notice that my license would be suspended. This whole sunpass/toll by plate thing is a scam to screw us over.

Greg
Greg

Judge Thomas Cobitz is a real ahole. Why does he assume the driver is always wrong?

Kerry Cole
Kerry Cole

Find more victims and then I'll believe the conspiracy theory. Seems shady to me.

Eddie Suarez
Eddie Suarez

I strongly dislike MDX and Sunpass. Roll Back Tolls tells a different story when toll violations pile up for gov't 8vehicles. Apparently those get forgiven...

j.pollo
j.pollo topcommenter

He who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

simms
simms

What is the point of this article if you offer no evidence, other than Mr. Martinez' word, that the tickets are in error? Did you find other victims?

mm2kay
mm2kay

apparently this comment system sucks and doesn't respect paragraphs.

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