No, NJ officials say — We’re not screwing Parkway driver on tolls
A Bayville man insists he’s been unfairly getting hundreds of dollars in fines for going through a toll plaza leading onto the Garden State Parkway — but a spokesman for the Turnpike Authority disputes his story.
Joe Munger told New Jersey 101.5 he puts coins into the toll basket when he travels from Exit 77 in Berkeley Township to Toms River, but the money that’s deposited doesn’t always register, and he’s received 15 to 30 $50 violation notices in the mail. That's why Munger said he decided to take video of every time he paid a toll — and provided one such video to NJ 101.5:
The video shows him throwing coins into the basket, but then the payment sign does not acknowledge the payment.
But according to New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney, after reviewing Joe Munger’s case, there are some inconsistencies.
“The patron fare display screens in the toll lanes are not connected to the violation system. Sometimes they malfunction. Sometimes they don’t change to 'paid' until after you’ve pulled through the lane. That doesn’t mean you are going to get a violation notice in the mail," Feeney said.
He also said Munger has never called the Turnpike Authority's customer service center to dispute any of his fines — which contradict's Munger's story to New Jersey 101.5.
“Mr. Munger told our customer service manager that the only video he ever took and posted was sometime last week. He did not receive a violation notice for that transaction," Feeney said.
Feeney said a review of Munger's history shows he's recorded violations at eight different toll plazas.
Munger claims close to a hundred people have lodged similar complaints on Facebook, and he says he’s convinced this is a money-making scheme by the Turnpike Authority.
(Feeney said he'd invite "any of those people to contact us and tell us the details of the problems they are having" — or to contact New Jersey 101.5 directly, and to give the Turnpike Authority permission to discuss the details of their cases.
At the beginning of this year, New Jersey 101.5 reported a potential class action lawsuit seeks to recover huge fines from E-ZPass customers whose transponders didn't register as they went through tolls, and who were hit with $50 fines per violation.
The complaint, filed in December in U.S. District Court, says the $50 fee violates both the 8th Amendment’s excessive fines clause and a state law that prohibits profiting off E-ZPass fines.
The Authority, which oversees the E-ZPass system in the state and manages the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, said in 2011 that it needed to double the fee in order to keep up with rising costs of process violations.
But according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by New Jersey 101.5, officials may have used inflated and misleading numbers to justify an “exorbitant” fee that the lawsuit describes as an “extortionate money grab,” a “massive theft and a most egregious breach of the public trust, which has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in ill gotten gains.”
Feeney said each violation costs the Turnpike Authority more than $50 to process.
"We would very much prefer if people paid their tolls in the lane the way they’re supposed to rather than making us chase them," he said.