I never thought I would fall into one of these traps. A moment lapse of judgement along with a lack of knowledge to rectify my lapse just cost me $11. On June 11, 2011, around 4:00 PM, I was going South on I-5 trying to get off the exit for Sand Canyon Avenue in Irvine, California (Orange County). I don’t know if I was spacing out or not paying attention, but by the time I realized I had taken the wrong exit (CA-133), I had to keep going straight onto the toll road with no way out.
The entire way through, I’m just thinking to myself, “Crap, Crap, how could I had not noticed? I need to get off at the first exit possible. This is so dumb.” And as I kept driving, I see the first exit off.
I’m now completely irritated and stop my car completely in front of the fork after I noticed there’s no escape. “DO NOT STOP” is what the sign says, and because I’m way too flustered and confused, I failed to continue reading the other signs, “STOP PAY CASH” and the toll payment violation sign (which I actually do not remember at all). So I drive forward through DO NOT STOP.
I continue onto my destination, still confused and frustrated with the whole situation, but after going to the event I had intended to go to and dinner afterwards, the incident was soon forgotten. Then June 28, 2011 arrives and I get a nice notice in the mail. I had missed a toll of $1.00 and the penalty was $55.00. I then go online to research this issue. It turns out, had I been better informed, I could’ve gone to https://www.thetollroads.com/violation/missedAToll.do within a couple days of the incident and I may had received a courtesy removal.
The message states on the page, “*Reduction is a one-time courtesy. If you have prior or outstanding violations, you are not eligible.” So it’s possible they would only reduce the fine and not remove it completely. I was not eligible for the website, immediate forgiveness because I had waited too long, so I had to go through the standard dispute process at https://www.thetollroads.com/violation/.
So this is what I entered:
I was heading south on I-5 and I was intending to take the Sand Canyon Avenue exit. I got confused by the signs and accidentally took the 133 exit which is right before the Sand Canyon exit. Once I realized my mistake, I could not stop my vehicle or turn around until the first exit I saw which was off of Irvine Blvd. I took Irvine Blvd exit because I could not think of any other ways to get off the freeway I did not intend to get on. Once on Irvine Blvd, I went south bond on Sand Canyon Ave as I had originally intended.
I read more into the dispute process, and found this document that gave more explanation on the process and researched what the “Administrative Review” was because I didn’t think that my initial protest would bring the fee down to the $1 I was willing to pay on principal. I read that the next level of appeal would require a $250 deposit for a $1 missed toll fee! Plus I would need to drive all the way down to Irvine and prepare my case, and WORRY about it the whole time.
So I tried giving them a call at (949) 727-4800, waited about 15 minutes on hold. The agent on the end pulled up my online dispute and put me on hold while checking with the supervisor. She approved the final amount to $11. I ended up paying online because I was told that if I waited, the official response is not guaranteed to be the $11 and may be higher (or could be lower). I realized that if the amount they decided on was more than $11, then I’d either have to pay for it or go through the Administrative Review. I decided on the gamble and chose to pay the $11. Meh.
Unfortunately, researching this issue online has gotten me nowhere on people’s experience on appealing. Just generally unhelpful Yelp reviews. Perhaps you have an experience on how you appealed? Did it turn out favorable? Did you end up paying nothing? Has anyone gone so far as the Administrative Review process?