The question “What happens if you don’t pay a toll in Florida?” isn’t uncommon because passing through a toll will help you find a direct route to your destination. Not only that, but it will also allow you to drive on highways that have a higher speed limit and fewer vehicles. As such, the toll fee you need to pay will be worth it, as you’ll save a lot of travel time.
So, what happens if you don’t pay a toll in Florida? First, you will receive a bill amounting to the unpaid toll fee and charges. At some point, your car registration might also be put on hold. Last, you might be issued a moving violation ticket, especially for multiple toll fee payment violations.
Like any violation, what happens to you as the registered car owner when you or the one driving your car don’t pay the toll depends on certain circumstances. Thus, let’s discuss those in detail. Let’s also understand how to pay tolls in the Sunshine State, as well as ways on how to pay your unpaid tolls.
How To Pay Toll in Florida?
The Sunshine State of Florida has several tolls with fees mandated by Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE), Turnpike Operations Center (TOC), and other regional and local agencies, including Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) and Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX).
They also provide various options on how you can pay the toll fee. This way, you can choose one that’s more convenient for you and works best for your needs. Let’s discuss three of the most common options.
Florida is among the first states in the USA with cashless toll fee payment systems that have made the lives of their residents more convenient. With pre-paid electronic toll fee collection systems, you no longer have to stop at any toll station.
As you pass through the toll station, the transponder attached to your vehicle simply gets scanned to detect your account information and then deducts the amount. What’s more convenient is that there are many pre-paid electronic systems that you can use for paying Florida toll fees.
Although the two most popular are SunPass and EPass; hence, we will focus on them.
Do I Need Both SunPass and EPass?
As of writing, there are about 25 toll roads, six managed lanes, 13 toll causeways and bridges, and six toll projects in Florida. With these numbers, it’s unsurprising that many people wonder and ask if they need multiple pre-paid electronic toll fee collection systems.
Which Is Better SunPass or EPass?
So which of the two systems should you go for? To help you decide which is better, below is a table of their most notable differences that you should keep in mind.
|Sticker, including college branded toll stickers|
|Discount for Frequent Users||None||Available|
|Drive-Up Load Services||None||Available|
From the table, we can conclude that EPass is better than SunPass because of the many benefits, such as discount programs, free stickers, and the convenience of adding funds to your account. That said, these are not just the factors that you need to consider since we all have different needs and preferences.
Can I Drive on the Florida Turnpike Without a SunPass or an EPass?
Yes, you can drive on the Florida Turnpike even if you don’t have any transponders attached to your vehicle. In this case, the toll by plate rule applies. Each time you pass by the toll, a photo of your license plate gets captured and saved.
The vehicle’s registered owner will then receive by mail a toll enforcement invoice or a bill that details the total amount you need to pay. The amount includes the unpaid toll fees incurred over the last 30 days and a minimal administrative charge.
Keep in mind, though, that you can’t use this option for Florida Managed Lanes. If you accidentally do so, you’ll be charged $25 for violation.
What if you’re only visiting Florida beaches and boating communities or checking out retirement community options? Registering for transponders and toll by plate might be too much of a hassle. Fortunately, you can pay with cash.
You can find several crewed and uncrewed tolls. The difference is you need to prepare the exact fee for uncrewed tolls since you won’t get any change.
- Unmanned: It’s advisable to prepare the amount a few meters away from the toll, especially since you’ll expect slow traffic because of the other vehicles in front of you. Then, just deposit the money in the toll basket.
- Manned: Although the staff can receive an amount higher than the toll fee and will give you change, if you pay with a bill higher than $20, they won’t accept it. Instead, they’ll issue an Insufficient Fund Notice. You then need to pay the amount via check or money order, as detailed in another section of the article.
What Happens if You Go Through a Toll Without Paying in Florida?
Now that you have an idea of how to pay tolls in Florida, let’s discuss in detail what happens when you or the person driving a car registered to your name fails to pay the toll.
Mailed Bill or Invoice
For cash lanes, you will receive a bill if you pass through the lane without paying the toll fee or failing to pay the full amount. For toll by plate options, bills are standard since you won’t need to pay anything once you pass through the toll.
When it comes to pre-paid electronic collection systems, you get a bill because of the following:
- Zero or insufficient balance in your account or forgotten to reload or fund it
- Non-updated vehicle or license plate information
- An expired credit card on file
- Changed bank account
- Improperly mounted transponder
- Malfunctioning or damaged transponder
Collection Agency Assignment
Your first bill or toll enforcement notice has a due date that you need to meet. If you fail to pay the full amount on time, the account gets assigned to an authorized collection agency.
You will then receive a second notice, now coming from the collection agency. It will include additional charges, such as another administration fee and collection agency fees.
If you once again fail to pay tolls by mail sent to you, you or the registered car owner won’t be allowed to renew your or their driver’s license. Once you paid the fees, though, you have to wait from 24 to 48 hours before the Registration Stop flag gets removed on the specific license plate.
If you still fail to pay the toll within the given period, you will expect a ticket in your mail and additional penalty charges, which can amount to $50. If you still don’t respond, you will incur an additional charge of up to $100.
Failure to pay all fees at this point will lead to a traffic citation, as it is considered a moving violation. This can affect your driver’s license points and might require a court hearing.
If you have five or more toll evasions or violations and once convicted of failing to pay the toll after multiple notices, you might expect a suspension of your license plate or driver’s license. As such, you might need to reinstate your license and go through the following:
- Take driving lessons in a DMV-approved traffic school
- Take alcohol and drug courses
- Go through community service; hours will depend on the court order
- Jail time
- Probation period completion
What Happens if You Fail To Pay Florida Tolls While Driving a Rented Car?
You’re probably visiting the state of Florida and rented a vehicle to move around. What if you forgot to pay the toll?
Of course, the car rental agency will receive the charges and penalty, so you need to be honest with them. After all, you’ve signed an agreement before the car got issued to you.
As such, the first thing you need to do is inform the company about the incident. They will then give you an assessment of fees, based on the signed contract or agreement, that you need to pay to them. They will use that money to pay the bill they’ll soon receive.
How Do You Pay Your Unpaid Tolls?
Unpaid tolls will cost you a lot of money, time, and effort, especially if you don’t pay once you receive the bill. After all, paying your unpaid tolls isn’t too complicated. Below are multiple ways on how to settle the invoice:
- Online: You can simply pay the charges on your electronic pre-paid collection fee system provider’s website.
- Mail: Another option is to send a money order or check payable to FDOT or your provider, depending on what’s indicated on the notice. You must also make sure you provide them with the required information, such as your license plate number and name.
- Cash: Paying with cash is only possible for electronic systems, and you have to visit your provider’s retail locations to do so.
- Phone: You can also pay by calling the toll number provided in the notice.
Keep in mind that the instructions on how to pay your unpaid toll fees will be indicated in the invoice or bill. Whatever mode of payment you choose, make sure you follow the instructions properly to avoid any inconvenience.
What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Toll in Florida – In Conclusion
No matter how systematic, organized, and responsible we are, there will come a point when we forget to do things. That can include reloading our electronic toll collection system, updating our credit card and vehicle information on our account, or paying a fee while passing through a toll.
Don’t worry since you’ll get notified via a mailed bill to ensure you settle the fees within a given period. However, things might get worst when you still fail to pay all the charges after a few notices.
Therefore, include paying the toll fee on your to-do list to prevent it from happening. Most importantly, if you used a rented vehicle, ensure you inform the rental company immediately or at least give them a call in case you forgot to inform them earlier, and then settle the bill.
Lastly, the system isn’t perfect so if you receive a bill and there are mistakes, make sure you immediately call the provided number in the invoice for any corrections.