Probably The Only Time I’ll Ever Rant About Government Spending

Perhaps I’m off-base. Maybe I just don’t understand how the system works. Of course, with the government, it’s possible that they don’t know how the system works, either.

I got a letter from I-Pass informing me of a Tollway violation. The form included a photo of the offending vehicle. Slam-dunk case in my favor. Wasn’t my car, wasn’t even my license plate. I called the number for I-Pass holders and got a real life, honest-to-goodness human person on the line. I told him about the letter, gave him the incident number, and waited for him to apologize for the mistake. The license plate in the picture is clearly not mine.

“Well” he says. “You probably rented a car. That’s usually the situation in these cases.” It’s true, I had rented a car, but it had been a year and a half prior to this, so that makes no sense. “Correct, sir. This incident happened about a year and a half ago.” Wow. As it turned out, I had rented that car, I had used my I-Pass, and didn’t realize you’re supposed to register the plate number anytime you use your I-Pass in a different vehicle. He did some important government computer stuff, rectified the situation, waived the fine that went with the violation, and thanked me for calling.

Here’s what I don’t get: Why do they care?

I have a car. I have an I-Pass in that car. If I need to use a rental car, I move it to the other car. It’s not like both cars can drive around and only pay one toll. So…How much does the State of Illinois spend tracking these transactions? Do they look at each and every vehicle using the Tollways to make sure I-Pass and license plate match? I can’t imagine there are people sitting at screens monitoring surveillance cameras, but how does a computer recognize plate numbers?

Obviously, I’m missing something. Not the first time. But if it took Illinois a year and a half to send my ticket to me, someone or something is spending a large amount of time on this. They would have had to trace that license plate to the rental company, who would have given them my information. So it  can’t be a simple process. And, as in my case, if they end up not charging an additional fine or fee, they did all that work for nothing. Why?

Anyone know? I’m not outraged, not painting sandwich boards. Just wondering why this matters to the state. Until someone points out what I’m missing, it’ll seem like an unnecessary expense to me.


3 thoughts on “Probably The Only Time I’ll Ever Rant About Government Spending

  1. What you’re “missing” Dan is that the government isn’t the entity that operates the tollways in Illinois. We have the honor of paying the Illinois Tollway Authority which in reality is a private organization that holds a suedo-governmental position. They have authority to charge fees, fines and even have your driver’s license suspended but that is at the behest of the state. They actually do employ people to review each and every violation and refer them for fine issuance. The reason for this is they use fines as a major source of revenue. They are always looking for ways to increase their profits for their board and stock holders.

  2. I meant to comment on this one, but forgot. It’s so true. And so frustrating. And sorry, I don’t have an answer for you. I’m with you…I don’t get it.

    I LOVE your new blog design. And the name.

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