HIGHWAY ROBBERY: DelDOT silent as more Delawareans come forward after receiving false toll violations

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) remains silent, refusing to acknowledge the issue with their toll system as hundreds of Delawareans come forward who received false violations.

TV Delmarva News has been inundated with interview requests from dozens of residents across the state who received toll violations after traveling through the Biddle’s Corner Toll Plaza in New Castle County when they had a working E-ZPass with active funds in their account.

Following the publishing of our report on Thursday, our social media pages were flooded with hundreds of comments from Delawareans who received false toll violations, including Megan Brown, of Newark, who has been dealing with this issue for at least the past year. She’s now speaking out, demanding DelDOT do something to resolve the issue once and for all.

“It’s been going on at least a year now,” Brown said. “I was randomly getting these violations in the mail and I know that I had my E-ZPass, I know it was funded, I know it was in my car, and the one thing that stuck out to me is that I would go one-way down to the beach and then come back, and they would only send me a violation for one direction.”

Most recently, Brown said she received eight more of the false violations, totaling close to a thousand dollars. She was told by DelDOT that she must appeal all of them while having issues online dealing with the process.

“It was time consuming to fill out the form and then waste the stamp to put it in the mail, everything, but most recently I just got eight of them at one time in the mail from last summer too, so number one, I don’t even remember the times going, and when you add them up they’re asking for almost eight hundred to a thousand dollars.”

While initially the issue appeared to span over the course of at least the past six months, we are now receiving additional reports of false violations dating back over the course of the past two years for some residents.

TV Delmarva News Director & Reporter Rob Petree raised these concerns directly to DelDOT’s Community Relations Director, Charles McLeod, who refused to acknowledge the issue and repeatedly requested that everyone who raises theses concerns contact customer service. Our interview request was then denied.

“We encourage them to contact customer service,” McLeod stated in an email response. “We will be glad to investigate the issue with the individuals but won’t be providing any interviews at this time.”

Everyone we have interviewed and spoke to who has been impacted by this issue has already reached out to DelDOT customer service to no avail, some of whom have already had their false toll violations sent to collections, including Adam Pritchett, of Camden, who said DelDOT did nothing to resolve the issue, all the while knowing that it wasn’t his fault but rather an error on their end, and still nothing was done.

“It’s been a long stream of this,” Pritchett said. “They told me it was my transponder, so I invested in four new transponders for my vehicles, and then I’d go through there and it would say ‘good to go’ every time, and then I would get notices in the mail that I had ran through the violation and it would show a picture of my tag. And I’m like ‘why are they sending me notices’ I’m an E-ZPass account holder, it should be real simple. It’s happen multiple times and I’ve even been taken to collections because I can’t even resolve the issue when I call customer service.”

Kent County resident Matt Burge works in New Castle County and has to take the toll through Biddle’s Corner Toll Plaza daily. He says, like so many others, he’s received multiple violations when he had a working E-ZPass with active funds in his vehicle.

“That shouldn’t be an issue because my transponder is linked to a tag, and we get the money withdrawn into the E-ZPass monthly, it constantly refills,” Burge stated. “My thing is, the notice I just got was from 2/21/22 and I just got it two, three weeks ago. Why did it take a week and a half to get to me, and then it was supposed to be in by April 4th.”

Burge was very frustrated and said something needs to be done, calling out officials at DelDOT, saying they need to acknowledge the issue publicly and take steps to resolve it.

“Just do your job,” Burge stressed. “It’s not that hard, get the facts straight. From what I’ve been told they have people that cross-reference the tags with transponders, so if that’s the case then somebody’s not doing their job because I never should have got a fine.”

Some residents, including Sherry Steller, of Smyrna, have received dozens of false violations and are now speaking out, demanding DelDOT take action to resolve the issue.

“As of today, I have 17 more coming today,” Sherry said. “Once I add the 17 in today, I’ll be at 78 toll violations. I went down to E-ZPass in Dover, spent an hour in there and showed her all my transponders, she checked the batteries and everything is great, and then she tells me to write an appeal for every single violation that I got. My time is valuable to me, I don’t have time to sit around and do appeals when the fault is not my fault.”

Chris Phipps, of Smyrna, said he went above and beyond to get the issue resolved with DelDOT after he received a toll violation when he knew for a fact he had funds in his E-ZPass and that it wasn’t his fault. He has not heard back after he appealed the decision and is speaking out to call for a resolution to this issue that has affected countless Delawareans.

“I’m very frustrated, very angry, and I would hope if anything just a little transparency, a simple letter in the mail to say they received it, an email, or anything,” Phipps said. “Their online portal, in my opinion, is a joke. I don’t know how it takes two weeks to get a letter back. I don’t understand how it’s like this, it’s very old, but I’m just trying to get by as much as I can I guess.”

The extent of the issue, exactly how many people have been affected and what’s causing this to happen, all of which DelDOT has refused to acknowledge, is not yet known at this time. What is clear however is that the issue is affecting residents from all corners of the state, including Jeff and Barbara Baskin, of Lewes, who also received a toll violation from the Biddle’s toll plaza when they shouldn’t have.

“We discovered it when we got the letter in the mail saying we went through a toll booth and that we did not have a transponder, which is not true, we had one,” Jeff Baskin explained. “It’s more like it didn’t read it or something in my mind, but then I’m looking at it again, and on there, just eyeing the tolls because I’ve been running up to Pennsylvania regularly now, my Mom is ill and it’s a lot, and I looked down and for some reason it has us as a different class of vehicle at the same toll booth. Again, I’m going up to Pennsylvania and back, so I go through four toll booths, and the other three show me as a Class 2 and all of a sudden this one’s Class 4 and it’s like ‘what’s going on?’”

Kelsey Gallagher, of Smyrna, said she recently got a large stack of false toll violations, all with random dates, showing her tag. For each one of them, she says she had a working, funded, E-ZPass transponder in her vehicle and should not have received the violations.

“I tried to go online and enter them to put my transponder in, and it won’t even let me do that, it says ‘call the main office’,” Kelsey said. “I’m really frustrated with this. It’s just maddening, I’m a full-time working Mom, I’m just busy all the time, and I shouldn’t have to take so much time out of my day to try and call them and wait on hold forever, and then just try and get ahold of somebody, when I’ve had it in my window this whole time, why is it not being used the way it’s supposed to be used?”

Countless people from across the state have flooded our social media with reports of the same thing happening to them, receiving a toll violation when they didn’t violate the toll, and then having to run around in circles with DelDOT to resolve the issue that wasn’t their fault to begin with:

“About a month ago I got 13 toll violations,” one user wrote. “This week 5 more smh dated as far back as October 2021 to January 2022.”

“They sent me the violation letter and I checked my E-Z Pass account to find that I had already paid the toll with my E-Z Pass,” another user wrote on our Facebook page. “They were trying to charge me $51.00 for a $1.00 toll that had been paid. Glad I checked and called them today!”

“It’s another scam the state has to gain revenue if you don’t pay it any attention,” one user speculated.

“We have a stack of them from as far back as August 2021,” another user wrote. “We get them in groups of 3-8 every few days. All appeals have been denied, although we have active EZ Pass.”

“My husband and I had some violations as high as $4,000,” another user wrote online. “We have transponders in both of our vehicles.”

Sure do have a whole stack,” yet another user wrote. “I have an active E-ZPass account and a transponder in each vehicle. Was told perhaps it was my tinted windshield so I traded the car in…still happening with my new vehicle with no tint on windshield.”

For a $1 toll on Route 1, the cost of violating it is upwards of $50 in fines. Many people who’ve been billed have been unable to resolve the issue with DelDOT, who at this time is refusing to acknowledge the it and continues to direct everyone to contact customer service. An interview request with DelDOT Secretary Nicole Majeski was denied.

TV Delmarva News is continuing to investigate this developing story. We will continue to bring you stories of Delawareans impacted by this issue until DelDOT addresses it and resolves the problem.