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OCTA Toll Road Violations & Judgments: The “Toll Road Trap”


Every year, hundreds of Californians fall into a trap involving Fast Track fines from the OCTA. Automobiles that transit Southern California’s various toll roads such as the 91 Express Lanes can become liable for OCTA Fas-Trak fines of up to $500 per violation. There is no limit to the amount of the aggregate penalties. Violations are often caused by the simple mistake of allowing a credit or debit card, to which the toll road fees were supposed to be automatically charged, to expire. There is no warning to the commuter-an unpaid transponder will still “beep,” usually causing the driver to believe that all is well. Sometimes people do not realize that they are accumulating OCTA penalties until they have used the toll roads many dozens of times. This can mean that the commuter is liable for tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Here is an actual example: a commuter uses the 91 Express Lanes for 30 days, unknowingly committing a violation twice per day, to and from work. At the end of the month, the commuter is assessed nearly $30,000 in cumulative fines.

The California Vehicle Code provides that unless the commuter immediately contacts the OCTA and pays the delinquent tolls, the OCTA can enter judgment against the commuter in Superior Court. This judgment has precisely the same ruinous effect as losing a civil lawsuit-the OCTA can garnish the violator’s wages, put a lien on the commuter’s home, or even seize bank account funds . Needless to say, judgment of this magnitude is a financial disaster for most people. Our Firm believes that these fines are unconstitutionally harsh, but the law nevertheless allows the OCTA to assess these huge Fast Track fines, and the California courts are enforcing them.

If you have had judgment entered against you by the OCTA, or if they are about to enter judgment, we recommend that you consider taking the following steps:

  • Retain an attorney immediately. The OCTA has lawyers, good lawyers. You need legal counsel too!
  • Do not contact the OCTA’s lawyers by yourself. Most attorneys believe that it is usually a mistake for an unrepresented party to try to deal with the other side’s attorney. Everything you say to them can have legal consequences.
  • Act promptly. Do not put off dealing with this problem. There are various Statutes of Limitations that apply to dealing with this problem. Delay is always a mistake.