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FDOT changing way it punishes SunPass toll violators

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Updated: 2/25 9:23 am
ORLANDO, Fla. (WFTV) -- Channel 9 has learned Florida's Department of Transportation is making a major change in the way it punishes drivers who don't pay tolls.

WFTV's Vanessa Welch said FDOT won't be turning over nearly as many people to have their driver's license suspended. Instead, those drivers won't be able to renew their license plate until they pay up.

The change will affect 98 percent of the drivers who get toll violations, the majority of whom owe less than $150.

Welch said the change is due in part because FDOT wants to ease the financial burden on drivers who don't typically run through tolls.
Those drivers will still get a violation notice in the mail, but if they don't pay in 90 days, a hold will be placed on their tag registration.

In the past, it would have been turned over to a clerk and the driver would face license suspensions and big fines.

Welch has been investigating complaints with the SunPass violation system since 2008. Drivers were going to jail because citations were mailed to their old address and they had no idea their license was suspended.

Ann Marie Latham was arrested while driving her son to elementary school.

"He said, 'You have multiple suspensions on your driver's license,'" said Latham. "I'm like, 'There is no way.'"

Habitual offenders who owe more than $150 in tolls will still get tickets.

The agency is still working on rolling out the changes. For now, SunPass has halted all toll tickets.

That doesn't mean drivers can burn the tolls and not pay for it while they are updating the system. The agency said those drivers will still get a violation and the company still has up to a year to issue fines.

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