68-year-old man jailed for paying toll with tokens

A man was jailed in New Hampshire for wanting to use tokens to pay a toll.
New Hampshire dropped its token system two years ago when it installed the Fast Pass system used in most Northeast states. The state gave drivers until Dec. 31, 2005, to use their 25-cent tokens.

In March of 2006, Jensen was driving to his cottage in Ossipee when he tried to pay the 50-cent fare at the Spaulding Turnpike's Rochester toll plaza using two tokens, as he had been doing for years.

The toll booth worker refused to take them and a state trooper at the plaza gave Jensen a citation.

‘‘(The trooper) said, ‘Just give him the 50 cents.’ I said, ‘I did, I gave him two tokens,’’’ Jensen recalled while sitting on the steps outside his Messina Woods Drive home.

The way he sees it, the tokens represented a contract between the state and himself, and he’s angry that the state has turned his pre-paid tokens into what he calls worthless souvenirs.

To rub salt in his wound, Jensen says New Hampshire lost his request for trial and, assuming he ignored the citation, issued a bench warrant for his arrest. When he was involved in a minor car accident this summer, he was arrested.

Link (Thanks, Ghurty!)


  1. As a native of the “Live Free or Die” state – I want to add that those tokens were sold for half price. So, $10 would net you 80 tokens (not 40 quarters) when they were offered. Thus making the $0.50 toll a $0.25 toll for the token buyers.

    I’m not sure if they made an attempt to offer a refund for people with stockpiles of tokens. That for me would make the difference in a legal case here. Normal people would maybe have a handful in the car at any time.

    – Kris

  2. Jensen may be technically correct, but he’s still a crank. Although, I think he should have been allowed a trial.

  3. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the cost of putting him jail for a couple of days far outweighs the cost of the tokens. If they’ve stopped issuing the tokens, then it seems like the logical policy would be to figure out how many are still outstanding, continue accepting them until the appropriate percentage are out of circulation, and then just drop the rest on the floor on the rare occasion that they continue to trickle in. It’s eventually a problem that will fall to zero.

    If you sold them to the guy, you should have some level of contract agreeing to either accept them from him, or at least buy them back. You can’t just say “Nope, we took your money, gave you tokens, and then decided that the tokens aren’t worth anything anymore, sorry.”

  4. I swear to god, for a couple of seconds I though the headline read:

    “68-year-old man jailed for paying toll with kittens”

    and I thought, oh yeah, well some people, you just never know, etc etc….

  5. When you pay money for a token or a gift voucher for example, then you are basically attempting to exchange money for goods or services that are to be received at a later date.. you are not purchasing the voucher or token as a product in and of itself. Therefore, if you are unable to exchange this token or voucher, you are entitled to receive back your money.

    In this case, if 50 cents bought two tokens, the buyer is entitled to receive that amount back from the state.

    Even with an expiry date on a token/voucher, it is debatable whether that expiry date applies if you have yet to receive any goods or service for your money.

  6. “Meh. There was a grace period to use them that expired 2 years ago.”

    At the time, it had been less than three months, if that helps any…

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