Monday, September 24, 2012

If You Pay with a Large Denomination Bill, You Can Be Held at a Toll Booth

File under: tracking, government harassment, absurdity, the power of government continues to grow

Motorists can be held indefinitely at toll booths if they pay with large denomination bills, according to a federal appeals court ruling handed down, reports

A family of drivers -- Joel, Deborah and Robert Chandler -- filed suit last year arguing they were effectively being held hostage by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the private contractor in charge of the state's toll road, Faneuil, Inc.

Under FDOT policies in place at the time, motorists who paid with $50 bills, and occasionally even $5 bills, were not given permission to proceed until the toll collector filled out a "Bill Detection Report" with data about the motorist's vehicle and details from his driver's license. Many of those who chose to pay cash did so to avoid the privacy implications of installing a SunPass transponder that recorded their driving habits. They were likewise unwilling to provide personal information to the toll collector, but they had no alternative because the toll barrier would not be raised without compliance. FDOT policy does not allow passengers to exit their vehicle, and backing up is illegal and usually impossible while other cars wait behind. FDOT dropped the Bill Detection Reports in 2010.

A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals did not buy the argument that these motorist detentions rose to the level of a constitutional violation.

"The fact that a person is not free to leave on his own terms at a given moment, however, does not, by itself, mean that the person has been 'seized' within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment," the court wrote in its unsigned decision. "In Florida, a person's right and liberty to use a highway is not absolute; it may be regulated in the public interest through reasonable and reasonably executed regulations."

(ht Travis Holte)


  1. People have a right to freedom of movement and a right to travel. It is not a privilege, granted to us by some government bureaucrats, it is a right.

    And if the "public" road administrators demand a payment for use, then as long as the user pays, that should be the end of the matter right there.

    This &#$%@ police state!!

  2. I agree with everything Scott Lazarowitz has written. How are these government policies in travel any different from the Russian policy of "Propiska"? They are no different, and the technology is perfecting it.

  3. Putting aside what's obviously wrong about this practice: $5 bills are considered a "large" denomination?

  4. What about legal tender laws? Other than the inability to give change for a big bill, by what right does the toll road have to deny payment with legitimate money, let alone hold somebody hostage for their personal information?

    Judges have become shills for the state.