Bestler | Driving some Florida roads takes its toll on you


On a car trip home from the Florida Keys last month, we took a toll road out of Homestead.

We had not traveled via toll on the way down, but decided it would be much faster through heavily populated southern Florida than I-95.

Several miles later, needing gas and realizing I-95 was near, we got off the toll road, expecting to pay someone at the end of the ramp.

Wait, what? No toll booth? How do we pay? Who do we pay? What's going on?

We spent about a minute on those thoughts, then pulled into a gas station and got on with the rest of our lives.

Last week, I got a letter in the mail.

“Dear Florida Visitor,” it began. “The State of Florida and Florida's Department of Transportation would like to thank you for your recent travels on Florida's Turnpike toll roads.”

Wow. How nice. The letter even included a swell photo of the rear of our Xterra.

But then it went on to say that we had been in something called a SunPass lane “by mistake.” It said our license plate had been recorded at several spots along the way and we now owed a total of $8.48. It was not a fine, just the amount we owed for using the toll road. Enclosed was a “Toll-by-Plate” invoice.

The letter added that Florida's Turnpike is transitioning to all-electronic tolling, which allows customers to pay tolls without slowing down or stopping as there are no traditional toll booths. It helps the environment and eliminates congestion.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. The world of technology is already far beyond me and an electronic toll road should be a no-brainer compared to, well, a nine-year trip to Pluto.

As polite as the letter was in the beginning, it got a little tougher at the end.

“Please pay the total amount due by the due date listed to prevent incurring additional fees, potential citation, or assignment of such transactions to a collections agent.”

Not to worry, Dear Florida Department of Transportation. Your $8.48 is already in the mail.

Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds.net.