Sunday, February 17, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words

Oh great, just when we are starting to use these in Texas there apparently is a big problem in getting the plates misread.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. -- Channel 9 found out your own license plate could make you vulnerable to toll booth violations. A driver called Channel 9 about several warnings he received for a car that wasn't his.

The man received three citations for running through the toll at Red Bug Road and the 417. He said he's never driven through there before and the image on the citation was not his car.
Edward Lynch drives a compact car, so he was surprised when Sunpass sent him an unpaid toll notice with the picture of an SUV.

"The car isn't my car," Lynch said.

Lynch said he spent 20 minutes on the phone with Sunpass trying to convince them they had the wrong car.

"They are reluctant to check the image to determine whether it's your fine," Lynch said.
When you pass through a toll and don't pay, a camera takes a picture of your license plate. Lynch and the toll violator have almost identical plates. Sunpass told him an employee misread the Q on the violator's plate as a zero and that's why he got the warning letter.

"That could be a ton of incorrect toll notices going out," Lynch said.

At Sunpass, people physically read the license plates from cars that didn't pay from video. However, they routinely make mistakes, most frequently mixing up the letter B and the number 8, the letters O and Q and the letter S and number 2.

Lynch thought he cleared things up with Sunpass, but a few months later he got another notice in the mail. A month after that he got another one. All three should have gone to the driver of the SUV.

"I was amazed that they managed to read the same plate wrong three times in a row," he said.
Sunpass told Lynch employees read 1,000 plates an hour. That's one every 3.6 seconds. The DMV told Eyewitness News they are considering dropping Q and zero from license plates because of the mix-ups.