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Web letter by Dirk Stauffer: I-PASS gift comes with hidden cost for motorist

We received an I-PASS many years ago as a gift from family in Chicago. While I thought the gift was nice, I also thought it was a bit much because traffic into Chicago is so bad anyway, what would we gain by using the fast lanes to save 80 cents each way?

Over the years tolls have gone up to $1.60 per booth minimum on I-294. I like Wisconsin, and the route has finally cleared up and is nice to drive. The I-PASS turned out to be a nice gift.

Since July 2012 we have received bills, twice, for up to $700, which are always negotiated down. Once in 2012 while in northern Wisconsin, I was pulled over and told my license plate had been not registered because of tickets outstanding. I found that interesting because it was the first time I had been pulled over since 1992. Come to find out, It was the I-PASS tickets my wife unknowingly had been accumulating traveling back and forth to see her mother.

I gave I-PASS $100 in late summer 2012 and another $100 in late 2012 to settle these bills. Now how many times has my wife been to Chicago to run up $250 in tolls over a six-month period at $3.60 round trip? Didn’t make sense?

I received another bill in January 2013 for $64.50. At this time I was thinking somehow our identity had been stolen. Come to find out, because our license plate changed the last couple of years here in Indiana, – that were registered to in my name, not my wife’s (although she is also on the registration) – the state of Illinois billed me, alerted other states that I was not paying tickets and billed me for tickets not paid. Twice, collection agencies called.

If you have an I-PASS for the toll road, make sure they know when your plates change etc. By the way, Illinois decided to try to make me feel bad for not letting them know that our license plate number changed. I have never received anything from I-PASS or the state of Illinois with policies, reminders or how to’s other than phone calls from collection agents.

DIRK STAUFFER

Fort Wayne

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