Special License Plates Let Certain California State Employees Avoid Tolls, Red Light Cameras

from the abusing-the-system dept

With all the fuss recently over red light cameras, Boing Boing points us to a fascinating story about how somewhere around one million Californians have special license plate that basically shield them from toll booth transponders and red light cameras. Basically, the system was originally designed for police, putting their license plate info in a special secret database to shield home addresses from criminals who might want to hurt them. That system is no longer needed because DMV records are all now private. But one of the unintended consequences of the system was that it became nearly impossible to send a remotely recorded ticket (such as via a toll booth reader or a red light camera) to the guilty party — since you couldn’t get their address. It even works in some cases when people are pulled over by police, because once the plate is looked up the record indicates that the plate is in this protected category, so officers often let the driver off for being “protected.”

To make matters worse, California has made it quite easy for state employees of all different types to get their license plate on the list, and from the sound of it, at least a few folks are abusing the privilege. The article found some who owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid fines for abusing toll lanes. It seems clear that many state employees are aware of these “benefits.” The article notes that museum security guards actually made sure to include a clause in a recent labor agreement that would allow them to get these secret plates. At this point, it would appear there’s simply no reason to keep these secret license plates in existence, but they’re still there basically just to be used by folks who want to disobey traffic laws and get away with it for free, no matter how often they’re caught.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Special License Plates Let Certain California State Employees Avoid Tolls, Red Light Cameras”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
BlowURmindBowel says:

Re: California Corruption

“In California you get to pay taxes to help Mexico Sucede”


Well, I am not sure if you MEANT to use the word ‘secede’ or the word ‘succeed’.

The latter clearly wouldn’t make semantic sense, but the former doesn’t really make sense either, secede from what? North America? Would they rather be known as a Central American Country?

Or perhaps you meant ‘NEW Mexico’, but I think the veracity of your claim in that presumed context sounds more like the jabbering of a crackpot so in the end I am at a loss…

Rose M. Welch says:

Yes, and in most states...

…police officers can have small tags made in the shape of a badge, with the initials of the dept. that they work for 9such as LAPD, NPD, etc.) on it specifically designed to hang on a license place. They are allowed to put these tags on the personal vehicles belonging to themselves and their immediate family members as a signal to other officers not to ticket them.

Jake says:

A road-toll exemption for government employees I could live with; offering a few perks to offset a relatively meagre salary is probably the only way some civil service organisations can compete with commerce for skilled employees within the tax budgets they have to work with. But immunity from prosecution for driving offences? Whiskey tango foxtrot?

e6k says:

Lol, what? You mean toll booths are unecessary anyway and if there is a place the public needs a road built to then the state can build it? Hmmmm sounds good to me. Most traffic violations could be taken off the books as well, a great many have nothing to do with safety and just have to do with doing things “proper” as defined by a lawmaker. Ridiculous. The people need to take back our public highways to be used as we want to use them, not how x person wants us to use them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I always figured that you’ve got to pay for highway maintenance one way or another, and tolls at least have the advantage of making the rate of taxation reflect the level of use each individual makes of them,…

Not even. A fully loaded 18-wheeler typically causes about 4000 times as much wear and damage to a roadway as a typical automobile. Now close to where I live is a tollway that charges me $1 for a round trip to the store and back in my car. So do 18-wheelers get charged $4000 for that same round trip? No. As far as I can tell from the signs, all vehicles (motorcycle, car, truck, bus, etc.) pay the same $1. So tolls are “fair”? Hardly. The “little guys” really get screwed.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...