Wildfires Took Their Toll

About a month ago I was attempting to go to the Tustin/Irvine Marketplace (you know, the sprawling purple nightmare strip-mall that spans two cities) and somehow ended up on a toll road. I don’t really understand toll roads. I was raised in the great northwest, where we don’t have toll roads, toll bridges or self-serve gas stations.

I’m not sure how I got on the friggin thing, as there was no indication I was heading onto a toll way. In fact I thought I was getting on Jamboree. Anywho, I exited right away and had to blow past the unmanned toll booth because I did not have exact change for the seventy-five cent toll and there was no change machine available. The people honking that were stuck behind me whilst I dug for quarters didn’t help the situation either

About two weeks later I got a fine in the mail. Funny thing, it looks like I’m not the only one with toll confusion: The Toll Roads “sent Los Angeles County Engine Company No. 116 the $100 ticket for not paying a toll on Route 133 during the October firestorms.”

The article indicates they had issues getting the ticket waived. I find that weird. Once I got my ticket, I just shot them off an email and explained my confusion about the situation I was in when the infraction occurred. They waived the fine no problem. Shouldn’t there be an exemption for emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines? Seems like a no-brainer.

One more question: Does anyone know if these toll evasion fines hit your DMV records (and therefore your insurance records) like a regular traffic violation? Just wondering if I had chosen to pay the fine, would that have counted as point on my record?

5 Comments so far

  1. Fox (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

    As a former employee of The Toll Roads, allow me to answer your questions:

    Company policy is that emergency vehicles currently being dispatched (that is, lights blazing) are not to be charged if the come through the plaza. However, this hardly ever comes up, even during a wildfire, because if you’re an emergency vehicle in a hurry, you wouldn’t come through the toll plaza, you’d just stay in the FastTrak lanes. Only time it ever happened to me was when a police chase flew through the plaza. And of course, nobody would be stopping to pay in such circumstances.

    As for the fines going on your driving record, they only do so if you don’t pay them. After a certain period (45 days or 90 days), the violation gets reported to the DMV and besmirches your official record. Otherwise, it’s merely a business transaction.

    Any more questions about The Toll Roads, just let me know!

  2. Jon (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

    Alrighty then, now I know. Thanks for all the info!

    Hey what about the Wienermobile? I think it should get a free pass too. =)

  3. LAM (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

    More information here: http://www.knbc.com/news/14752707/detail.html?rss=la&psp=news

    After checking their records, The Toll Roads is reporting that the fire truck was traveling to a funeral two days before the fires, and this occurred on the 73, not the 133. Had the truck been responding to an emergency, or had been part of a funeral procession, they would have had the toll waived. But since they were traveling the toll road like a normal user, they are expected to pay like the rest of us.

    I have no problem with that…

  4. Dave Share (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

    I used to drive an ambulance, and was always tempted to take the toll road cause we wouldn’t have to pay. Guess I made the right decision in NOT taking it!

  5. private (unregistered) on December 17th, 2007 @ 8:17 pm

    You know, actually I do have a problem with it. A fire truck is a government vehicle with an Exempt license plate. That doesn’t mean that they’re exepmt from the vehicle code, but they are supposed to be exempt from registration fees. I think that should apply to toll fees as well.

    Especially since the toll road is owned by the government.

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