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I-TEAM: Jacksonville driver wrongly billed for South Florida SunPass tolls

FDOT: About 50,000 mistakes made by automated system every month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the days and weeks following an April I-TEAM investigation into Jacksonville drivers wrongly billed by Florida's SunPass toll system, we've been flooded with calls from viewers saying it happened to them too.

Allen Dunn is one of them. He has received three separate bills from the Florida Department of Transportation and SunPass. The first bill arrived in the mail in January for $50.74, another came in February for $74.18, and the third bill arrived in April for $84.40.

"We're talking about hundreds of dollars," Dunn told the I-TEAM.

According to SunPass, Dunn has been driving along the Turnpike through Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, as well as on other toll roads around Miami.

But Dunn says that can't be right because he hasn't been to South Florida in years -- since 2011. He's worried someone else's mistake could result in a penalty for him.

"I'm worried about not being able to register this car next year because we owe so much money," Dunn explained.

To top it all off, SunPass claims Dunn has been driving a white box truck but with his Florida license plate tag: BQVE05.

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When he called to dispute the bill, Dunn says he was told the white box truck's actual plate is B0VE05: one character off. 

Dunn tells the I-TEAM he was told by a SunPass representative the SunPass automated camera-based system mistook the 0 (zero) for a Q.

"You call and try to get a remedy, you're promised a remedy, and it continues. Keep getting invoices and keep getting bills," he said.

FDOT tells us some of the common reasons toll cameras misidentify license plates are:

1. A bright ray of sunshine reflecting off the license plate (Can result in a misidentification) 
2. Leaves blowing onto the Toll Road camera and getting stuck on the lens (Happens often) 
3. And any kind of Debris on the plate, like dirt, mud or even gum. (Can make a plate hard to read)  

According to FDOT officials, the SunPass automatic tolling system has a 99.5% success rate. With millions of invoices generated each month, they admit the system makes about 50,000 mistakes a month. 

If you receive an erroneous bill -- even if it's for an amount as small as 47 cents -- do not pay it. If you do pay it, the automated system will associate you with that tag and chances are you'll get billed again. Instead, contact Sunpass and file a dispute. You can do that by going to SunPass.com or calling the customer service line at 888-TOLL-FLA (888-865-5352).

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Also, to avoid this altogether, SunPass suggests you register for your own SunPass account, and get a transponder so there won't be any mistakes. 

In Jacksonville, the I-295 express lanes are now open in Mandarin and they'll only charge you to drive on these express lanes from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. All other times are free.

Another section of express lanes along I-295, from State Road 9B to Butler Boulevard , is scheduled to open by the end of 2019.

For more information on these FDOT toll projects, go to NorthFloridaExpress.com .


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