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Big Brother, Asleep at the Camera on Bay Area Bridges

Posted by Jason Beahm | Jun 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Imagine getting a ticket for something you didn't do, and your accuser says: “we got you on camera.” It might sound like an open and shut case, camera evidence is hard to refute. Except when the entire system isn't functioning correctly.

This could happen to you if you have a California license plate on your car. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there cameras on our bridges to catch toll evaders and help monitor the Fastrak program. When someone drives through a fastrak lane and doesn't have an active transponder, they can get a ticket. The way the system works is that a camera is set to take a bunch of pictures  if no transponder is detected. Then, Fastrak looks up your address based on your license plate, and mails you a ticket. And, if a person doesn't pay the toll evasion tickets issued by them, a hold can be placed on their vehicle registration.

While “the powers that be” maintained there were checks in place to prevent errors, there were numerous stories of how the system does misidentified vehicles at an alarming rate. Beahm Law client, Angel G., from San Diego, was one of the people whose vehicle had been misidentified by Fastrak, nearly 20 times! Angel had previously requested they stop sending the tickets that were clearly wrong and was continually told he just had to keep contesting them because that was the system.

The ticket had a chart under some bold writing explaining that it was a ticket for toll evasion, the chart showed Angel's license plate number, name, and vehicle information. Then, there was a relatively clear black and white photo that showed a nice, newer Mercedes. The license plate in the photo was clear and easy to read. Angel drove a GMC truck, which was listed in the chart, which was clearly not the car in the photo, and Angel had a different license plate number, as listed on the chart, with only a few shared characters with the Mercedes.

Beahm Law sent a demand letter to Fastrak and the Bay Area Toll Authority requiring them to act on behalf on Angel, and all other California drivers. Beahm Law demanded, for Angel and the Drivers of the State of California, for a system to be implemented whereby when a person successfully contests a citation for a misread plate error such as Angel's, that person will be flagged in the system so that a ticket will not be sent until approved by a live person.

Beahm Law is proud to announce that the Demand was Accepted. Fastrak and the Bay Area Toll Authority will systemically resolve the flaw in the system exposed by Angel's case.

About the Author

Jason Beahm

Founding Attorney Profile Credentials Associations Bio Jason Beahm is the Founder and President of Beahm Law. Voted “Best of SF” four out of the past five years by SF Weekly Magazine, Attorney Beahm practices in the areas of DUI, criminal defense, and personal injury. He is passionate ...


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