SunPass problem nearly costs man his license, hundreds of dollars

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An Apopka man contacted Channel 9 Eyewitness News after the state threatened to take away his license for two 75-cent tolls he thought he paid. But Channel 9's Racquel Asa learned that he made just one simple mistake that nearly cost him hundreds of dollars.

Every time Jason Savarese gets in his car and passes through a toll booth, he wonders whether or not his transponder is working, especially after he received a notice in the mail.

"It says that, as a result my driving privilege will be suspended indefinitely on January 31, 2013 if I didn't pay that amount," said Savarese.

The fine stemmed from two 75-cent tolls his transponder didn't pick up because he had an older model and had problems with the battery. He said he called SunPass to pay off the balance on his account and close it.

"They said, 'You're paid in full, everything is good to go,' and I opened a new account.

He thought everything was fine until the Department of Motor Vehicles threatened to take his license away.

"It was holding my license as ransom or hostage, you know, pay it or lose this. I don't think that's right," said Savarese.

Asa called SunPass to try and sort out Savarese's problem.

She learned that there's a 30-day delay before SunPass posts violations to a user's account.

In Savarese's case, the balance he paid off didn't include the two 75-cent tolls he ran the day before closing the account, because they hadn't posted to his account before he closed it.

A representative from SunPass said, because Savarese has a good history with them, they would resolve the issue. They just asked that he pay the $1.50 for the tolls.

"Just pay the two 75-cent infractions, which is fine, it's what I owe them and they apologized," said Savarese.

Florida Turnpike officials said the 30-day delay is designed to give drivers time to pay off the violation before a notice is sent out.

To prevent this from happening, a SunPass representative said users who have a transponder problem shouldn't close their accounts. Instead users should get a new transponder under the same account number.