Wisconsin Drivers Get Whacked By Illinois Toll System


A few months back, I wrote about how the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority was sending violation notices to the wrong addresses, leaving some drivers to miss out on the opportunity to pay their fines before the fines dramatically increased or their driver's licenses were suspended.

Now the Toll Authority's new computer system used to check vehicles traveling on the Illinois tollway using the I-PASS (electronic toll payment transponder) was found to have a software problem that affected Wisconsin drivers.

According to an AP story, Wisconsin I-Pass users whose transponders didn't register when going through a toll (as sometimes happens) didn't match up properly during a tollway enforcement system validation cross-check between Illinois and Wisconsin I-Pass records. As a result, the Wisconsin drivers got a fine for using an "expired" I-Pass transponder or for not owning one at all.

The root cause of the problem was, according to the story, that "the new Illinois computer system allowed Wisconsin drivers signing up for the I-PASS to identify their vehicle as a 'passenger' car. But Wisconsin records listed the license plates as an 'auto.' " The incompatibility was why the databases didn't sync up when checked and Wisconsin drivers got whacked even though they had working I-Pass transponders.

Why the incompatibility existed in the first place wasn't explained.

No one seems to know how many Wisconsin drivers have been affected, either, and it will take at least another six months before the situation can be cleared up.


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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City