Palm Harbor victim of toll mistakes loses license, faces Collections

Palm Harbor victim of toll mistakes loses license, faces Collections (Image 1)

When electronic tolling makes a mistake, it can be a big one.

On Friday, Bill Welch of Palm Harbor was without a license and facing hundreds of dollars in fines and fees. The state placed a hold on his vehicle registration. The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority told him he owed nearly $700. 

Palm Harbor man sent to collections for toll bills that weren’t his

So Welch contacted 8 On Your Side.  

Within minutes of our report, Welch received an email from the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority.

“It was very apologetic, you know that it got to this point, and they were going to look into it and do whatever they could to resolve the matter, which I was very appreciative of it,” Welch said.

For years MDX continually charged Welch for a Mitsubishi using south Florida toll roads. It had a similar plate to the one on the back of Welch’s van. More recently, MDX billed him for a VW Jetta.

Welch, a business man, said he’d be out of work if he conducted his business in the same manner the state operates its electronic tolling.

“You can’t run a business this way. Customer service is what it’s all about,” he added. 

Before contacting 8 On Your Side Welch didn’t know his license had been suspended. 

“It was a shock because I really had no idea, you know. A heads up would’ve been nice,” he said.

On MDX’s website, 8 On Your Side found the registration on the Jetta expired in a different month and year than Welch’s van, proving it’s not the same plate.

We fired off an email Friday afternoon to St. Petersburg state senator Jeff Brandes, chairman of the legislature’s transportation committee.

That evening MDX assured Welch it would investigate.

On Monday, a special resolution analyst from the Florida Turnpike Enterprise/Florida Department of Transportation contacted him.

“She even admitted it didn’t take long for her to notice that, that “O” was actually, a “Q”, so now they know who the registered owner of that vehicle is,” Welch said.

The state informed Welch the 3 cases brought against him in Miami-Dade will be dismissed, the collections agency hounding him for $700 will back off, the hold will come off of his vehicle registration and his license will be reinstated.

“I have to thank you guys for getting involved and helping me out with this,” he added. “This wouldn’t have been taken care of at all if 8 On Your Side hadn’t gotten involved.”

The state claims its accuracy rate for electronic tolling is better than 99.9 percent. 

But, MDX and the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to replace 8 to 10 error-prone characters on license plates, such as “Os” and “Qs” OR “Bs” AND “8s.” If these errors commonly occur, it seems contradictory that the state claims its accuracy rate is so high.

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