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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HIGHWAY ROBBERY


 HIGHWAY ROBBERY

Last week I got a letter in the mail from EZ Pass.  It seems my car was photo tagged as running an EZ Pass toll.  Sure enough, they had a picture of my license plate.  It was taken at a Delaware River bridge crossing.  It was taken the same day and time I regularly cross the bridge on my way to baby sit for the Pa. Crankettes. 

It was me alright. 

Except, I don’t use EZ Pass.  I never go through the EZ Pass lane, because I don’t use EZ Pass.  This bridge costs one dollar to cross.  I always go through the same lane, stop at the toll booth, hand the attendant a crisp one dollar bill, say “Have a nice day,” and merrily go my way.  Somehow the camera still snapped my plate and now they want their one more dollar plus thirty bucks in administrative charges.

WTF!

Who just runs through the toll, waves at the attendant and doesn’t pay?  Certainly not a 69 year old fart in a slow ugly green Jeep Wrangler.  How do you even fight this?  They have a picture of my plate.  Thirty-one dollars…talk about highway robbery.

It’s not the first time I’ve been a victim of highway robbery.  I’ve been nailed three times in a speed trap.  Highway speed traps are simply a local government shakedown.  

The first two times I was nailed in a speed trap was in the first year I had my license.  Both traps were set on the bottom of a hill where the posted speed limit suddenly dropped from 40 MPH to 25 MPH.  They were known speed traps and locals knew to slow down.  I was local, but new to this shakedown thing and did not know the cops would be waiting.  On one of them, a driver coming in the other direction even tried to warn me by flashing his lights at me.

“What the fuck is that idiot doing flashing his lights at me?”

Hey, they didn’t teach that etiquette in Drivers Ed.

My third speed trap came twenty years ago, and it was the most ridiculous.  Driving south on the Rhode Island Turnpike there was a small sign “Construction next 20 miles speed limit 30 MPH.” The construction was on the north bound side.  

“Thirty MPH! That can’t be right.”

 I took my foot of the gas and slowed from 65 to 55 when no more than one quarter mile from the warning sign five state troopers were pulling cars over as fast as they could.  They pointed and waved and if you didn’t pull over they had a chase car.

I pulled over and got a speeding ticket; it cost me $75, and pushed my insurance rate up another $200 a year, every year. 

I asked the trooper, “How long do I have to maintain a speed of 30 MPH.”

“The next twenty miles.”

“Twenty miles, but there is no construction on this side, everyone is doing the usual 65 MPH.” 

As I said this, cars were roaring by safely as the five troopers were too busy writing their tickets to pull them over.

“Next twenty miles, no more than 30 MPH unless you want to risk a second ticket.”

I pulled out and grudgingly drove only 30 MPH for maybe two miles.  During this time I was almost rear-ended five times by cars traveling at normal turnpike speed.  I also received eight angry horn blasts, and several middle finger salutes.

“Fuck it, this is ridiculous, we’re going to be killed at this speed”

I pumped it up to a safer 65 MPH.

ARRGHH!!

I get it, the government needs revenue, I just wish they would call it what it is…robbery.

“Boop boop boop“ pull over.”

“Shit!”

“Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No.”

“Well sir the great state of Rhode Island has authorized me to randomly stop anyone I want and collect $75.  I am required to do this at least twenty times a day.  Do you want to pay with cash, check, or Visa?”

“But that is just highway robbery!”

“Yes sir, yes it is.  Would you rather I make it a speeding ticket and have your insurance company rob you as well?”

 No, I guess not.  Thank you.  Did you say you take Visa?”

17 comments:

  1. We lived by a speed trap when we lived in the San Diego area. They set it up on our street, it was right over the hill when the hill slowed down to 25 right at the hill; people blew through at 35 plus (I heard the police tell one guy he was going 58). They would have at times 4 motorcycle cops and 2 cop cars on our cul-de-sac street pulling people over. It was a mess if you were trying to get home during that time but boy did they write tickets! Longest I saw them "work" was about 4 hours on a HOT day (mid 90s). We gave the police water bottles. We felt our street was a safe one since they were always there, LOL.

    We did accidentally go through an Ez Pass area our first fewe months in Southern California. We weren't paying attention to the signs (actually we didn't understand we were supposed to pull over to pay the toll). We got a letter in the mail. I explained our ignorance. They took away the fine, we just had to pay the toll :)

    betty

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  2. You're right, they should call it by its true name, Highway Robbery.
    Here in Australia, one of the first things kids learn, at an early age, is if an oncoming driver flashes his headlights (which is illegal BTW) you slow down.

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  3. You got it. I understand stopping cars going excessively fast, but if you're just "going with the flow", that to me seems safe enough. But here they give very little tolerance, and that includes at stop signs. A rolling stop, aka a California stop", will get you a big fat fine. How chicken shit!

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  4. I deserved every speeding ticket I ever got. But running an EZ pass at a toll gate? That's insane. And I don't mean you.

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  5. After retiring, I worked a while as a toll collector. If I were you regarding that bogus run thru, ask that collector if they remember you and would be willing to state that you are a regular paying customer. I know I remembered my regulars. Good luck.

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  6. Where is my ticket? I speed and use EZ Pass. Doesn't everyone? Except you?

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  7. Things like that make it very challenging to keep one's sanity...

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  8. I recall one spring break, we were driving back from Florida, and over the last 15-20 miles of Georgia, before we crossed the Tennessee line, I bet we saw 20 cops, from multiple jurisdictions, all doing 'revenue enhancement' on out-of-state vehicles. . .

    My son once got ticketed for going the posted limit on I-75 up north, because there were orange barrels on the grass; not even on the shoulder. . .

    And I've been well-trained by now to do a quick speed-check whenever I crest over a hill; 'cuz those downhill runs can cost ya. . .

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  9. Here they stop you on side streets to give tickets for lapsed inspection stickers. You have to be careful no matter where you are driving.

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  10. The city I live in is notorious for handing out speeding tickets. They hand out more tickets than nearby Portland, and Portland has five times the population of our little suburb. We're always in the news about it. Recently, the city asked citizens to vote for a bond measure for a new police building. The citizens voted a resounding "NO!" Critics of our police department told them to fund the building with all that ticket money. It doesn't help that my wife and son both work for the police department.

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  11. Everyone is out for your last dollar. I've noticed that getting worse and worse. We just finished our taxes and I don't even want to talk about how much more in federal taxes we're going to pay this coming year in our quarterlies. I was shocked.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  12. I am righteously indignant over this. And I would do something about it! I would at least call and try to make it right. You could not have been the only victim of this malfunction that day!

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  13. It's the same all over. Loved your closing statement. Get your quota, get your quota

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  14. As the not-so-proud possessor of five speeding tickets and a warning...I must say that sometimes, we drivers are set up. Like that time I was on an outer road near Rolla, Missouri, and a car whooshed up behind me out of nowhere and started tailgating me. I was nervous. I went a little faster. It came closer. I went a little faster. Still tailing me. I went a little faster. WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP! I was framed, I tell ya!

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  15. This kind of crap makes me crazy, being stuck in situations involving technicalities that make little sense and that you really can't fight and win, all the while the crazy drivers who endanger everyone or break every rule in the books go whizzing by unhindered. I like your concluding thoughts, AMEN, might as well bend and smile! :-)

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  16. Oh man! You have my dander up! We visited Texas two years ago, rented a car, and jumped on the road. How do we get to (Austin, say). The Google map app doesn't tell you if it's a toll road or not. Just north of Austin it seemed like EVERY highway surprised us with "Toll advisory" signs, and we had no idea how to go around them or take other roads. As we pulled up to the empty booth to ask our questions, we had NO choice but to keep on driving. What are we going to do? Sit and wait for the attendant to return, never? When we got back to California my bank statement reflected about $60 in toll road charges the first month, another $45 in toll road charges the next month, and another $25 in toll road charges the next month!!! This is the kind of thing no one warns you about. I agree with you. I do have a solution to the ticket you got, though. Here in California where I understand the toll system, I just ask the attendant for a receipt each time. And I save every stink'in' one of them. Of course then they got me on a different toll road and only waived the administrative fee if I signed up for an account and linked it to my bank account.

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