Tip of the Week: Pay Your Tolls. They’re cheaper than the fines.
As tolls keep getting higher and higher, many drivers and companies are looking for ways to ease the strain a bit. Paying with E-ZPass or similar services is usually far less expensive than paying cash, but some drivers take it a step too far.
Port Authority Police busted a New Jersey truck driver going over the George Washington Bridge for trying to avoid paying the increased tolls. Wiston Montas-Alejos, 25, was arrested after Officer Steve Pisciotta pulled him over at 8:50 a.m. He was initially pulled over because he had mounted his front license plate higher than normal – a trick commonly used to try to avoid toll cameras.
His troubles only increased from there when Officer Pisciotta noticed a strange smear on the front license plate. He took a picture of it and continued his inspection, but when he returned to the front of the truck, the smear was gone… and the ‘8’ on the plate had turned into a ‘6.’ By altering that one number, another trucking company had been getting charged for his tolls.
According to the port authority of New York and New Jersey website, a cash toll for the George Washington Bridge can run up to $65.00 per direction for a 5 axel commercial vehicle. Authorities said that Montas-Alejos had pulled the same trick at least 2 times prior in that same week. Police charged Montas-Alejos with theft of service, hindering, tampering, unclear and altered rear plate, altered front plate, failure to provide insurance proof and a cracked windshield.
Late last month, a New York driver was arrested on suspicion of owing over $25,000 in tolls. This driver, Benjamin McClellan had also attempted to change his license plate using electrical tape.
These were crimes that should not have been committed, yes, but truckers are all too familiar with the circumstances under which it occurred. Tolls hikes have been pushed all across the country, and in New York State, where tolls are already elevated, a new proposal has come out that would show a 45% increase in truck tolls on the New York Thruway.
For individuals, a ride on the PATH, a commuter train that connects New York and New Jersey, only costs $2.75, but where does that leave commercial drivers? Some states have instituted tolls that are higher for out of state drivers. This “Trucker Tax” combined with the rising costs of tolls across the country is forcing the cost of operating a commercial vehicle through the roof. And there’s no end in sight.
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