FHP: Man used remote control to cover license plate, avoid toll on SR 417

Not paying a two dollar and twenty five cent toll on the 417 landed a Seminole County man in jail

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A man found himself in jail after he used an elaborate set-up to cover his license plate to avoid a toll on State Road 417, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Dashcam footage showed a trooper pulling over John Guevarra on SR 417 after noticing his license was obscured.

Gueverra seems to tell the trooper the cover doesn't work all the time. But it looks to have functioned properly for the trooper as he uses the remote.

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"That is stealing, I mean you are stealing from the state," said Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol. "You are purposely obscuring your tag so that you can not be charged the toll violation."

Guevarra was placed into jail on a felony charge of cheating or gross fraud.

The arrest doesn't mark the first time troopers have caught someone with a similar device. In 2017, a trooper caught a driver on State Road 408 dropping a shield.

More than 100,000 tickets were written to people for obscuring their tags in 2018.

Channel 9 discovered that owning the mechanism to cover a license plate isn't illegal, but placing it on your car with your tags blocked is, especially on the road.

"If you have it in a down position at any time the car is in motion or is on a roadway, you're breaking the law," Montes said.

A representative with Florida's Department of Transportation told Channel 9:

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) typically collects 95% of the tolls charged on our roadways. Most customers pay with their SunPass or stop to pay with cash. The remaining transactions are captured through photographic images of customer license plates, also known as TOLL-BY-PLATE. Florida's Turnpike uses measures, in conjunction with Florida Highway Patrol, to counter toll evasion.
• The Turnpike's own loss prevention staff worked 509 violator cases in 2017, 424 of those involved obscured license plates. 
• FHP-Troop K issued more than 400 citations for toll violations in 2017.