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Back on March 19, this writer put in his typical Monday workday and never left his neighborhood in California’s capital city. That schedule is somewhat at odds with a notice I received from FasTrak, California’s freeway tolling agency.
“Immediate Attention Required—Official FasTrak Notice,” read the outside of the envelope, mailed on May 14. “Violation Notice,” explains a magenta page inside. “You are receiving this violation notice because you drove in the 1-680 Contra Costa Express Lanes without a valid Fastrak toll tag.”
Actually, as I pointed out in an email to FasTrak, I didn’t drive in those lanes that day and I have never driven my current car on any stretch of 1-680 at any time, The FasTrak “official notice” offered no evidence or proof, photographic or otherwise, that on Monday March 19, 2018, I had driven on I-680 express lanes between Walnut Creek and San Ramon. The charge is a complete fabrication.
This was a “second and final” notice of a “delinquent toll evasion violation,” but I never received a first notice. According to this second notice, I owned $25.50, which would surge to $70.50 after May 30. Delinquent violations “may be sent to the DMV to be collected with your DMV Registration Renewal.” In fact, according to this official notice, “unless you pay the penalties” or contest the fee “the renewal of your vehicle registration shall be contingent upon compliance with this Notice of Delinquent Toll Evasion.” But wait, the magenta page says, “Open a FasTrak account to pay your toll and order tags. We’ll waive the $25 penalty.”
In the Bay Area, this type of extortion scam is rather common. An Independent Institute colleague got dinged for failing to pay a bridge toll, and the evidence was a photo of him at the toll booth paying his toll. In my case, FasTrak provided no evidence of any violation, just a fake charge, backed by threats. By all indications, politicians and FasTrak bosses are okay with it. In California, government greed is truly fathomless.