Posted by Terry Alexander - email
MORE: Area toll travel is down
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Not having an E-Z pass and using the express lanes of the Powhite may be anything but easy. Many drivers are finding that out the hard way in court.
A Richmond couple has missed work and been to court three times now. And Thursday night they still don't know if they will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
The Powhite express lanes have been open for more than 10 months. About 45,000 vehicles travel through every day. But on average one thousand cars are violators, meaning no E-Z pass for the sensors to detect. The camera goes off and a violation notice is sent in the mail.
Rachel Hendrick's husband got six notices.
"I'm extremely frustrated. It's the third time we've been here," said Hendrick.
Hendrick is trying to fight the violations. She believes the sensor may not always work properly. The judge dismissed the case against her husband, but has issued a summons for her.
"The smart tag accounts in my mother's name, the car's in my husband's name and I'm the operator of the vehicle," Hendrick said.
She never anticipated how complicated this could become.
"We're thinking okay this is for a 70 cent toll. You know here's your 70 cents can we go back to work so we can get on with our lives," she said.
She has one piece of advice for anyone thinking of taking these tickets to court.
"You don't want to go through this. Come plead guilty and get it over with the first time if you actually are guilty. Because you don't want to come back here time and time again," said Hendrick.
The RMA says the express lanes are clearly marked with signs and the sensors are tested regularly and work fine. They say if you are going to travel the express lanes make sure you have an E-Z pass and it is clearly mounted on your windshield.
The RMA also says don't borrow an E-Z pass because the sensors can tell if your car is not registered to use it. You also never have to take your case to court if you pay the summons that comes in the mail. There is also an option on that summons to appeal.