From license plate flippers to duct tape: how sneaky drivers are bypassing toll booths and costing millions

In a recent article from The Wall Street Journal titled "Sneaky Drivers Dodging Toll Cameras Cost Authorities Millions," Scott Calvert reveals a growing issue on America's roads: drivers creatively evading tolls, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenues. As technology has advanced, so have the methods that individuals use to avoid paying tolls, ranging from mechanical tag flippers to more basic techniques like covering plates with everyday items.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Authorities in the Dallas and San Francisco areas say they missed out on more than $33 million combined in tolls last year due to such tactics. The hit to MTA Bridges and Tunnels, which operates seven bridges and two tunnels in New York City, was nearly $21 million, a 137% jump from 2020, the agency says.

The piece describes various techniques drivers use to bypass toll cameras, which have become more prevalent since the shift to all-electronic tolling during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the decrease in manned toll booths, individuals have resorted to devices that can hide their license plates at the push of a button or simply obscuring them with materials like duct tape or face masks.

Here's a list of ways sneaky drivers are hiding their license plates from toll cameras, according to the article:

  • Using mechanical devices that hide the driver's tag at the push of a button.
  • Jury-rigging license plates with face masks or duct tape to obscure them.
  • Power-washing paint off license plates to make them unreadable.
  • Covering plates with household items like leaf-shaped magnets.
  • Using remote-controlled devices to swap real license plates with bogus ones.
  • Lowering covers over license plates like a curtain to hide them from cameras.
  • Bending license plates back or altering characters to prevent accurate reading.
  • Taping over license plates with items like Cheetos bags
  • Modifying letters with dark tape.

See also: This real dummy tried to sneak into the carpool lane