Washington driver who avoids 520 charged for Texan's tolls

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 27 at 8:30 PM

SEATTLE -- David Lau crosses Lake Washington all the time -- he just never takes the 520 bridge.

"I do take I-90," he said. "It's just more convenient."

So, you can imagine his dismay when he started getting bills for $5 tolls. Trips across the bridge he never took.

"It just didn't make any sense," Lau said.

It turns out there's somebody out there with a Texas license plate that has the same number as Lau's Washington plate, but the tolling system isn't able to tell the difference. That means Lau has gotten not one, but about 10 bills over the past few months that someone else is supposed to be paying.

"They said they can't do anything about it because it's the computer system that automatically processes the bill," said Lau.

What's more, the license plate on Lau's car isn't even active. Lau says he turned the plate into the Department of Licensing more than three years ago, but he's still had to spend hours on the phone with police and DOL and WSDOT trying to get the situation cleared up.

"It's very frustrating," he said, "especially when I have to call them each time."

And even more frustrating because when Lau talked to WSDOT just last week he found out the traveling Texan was at it again and yet another bill was on its way.

"She told me another one is coming and I can't take it out because it's in the process," he said.

WSDOT says it is working on the problem and that less than 1 percent of the 65,000 or so drivers who cross 520 every day are experiencing issues with the new tolling system.

Lau is not being asked to pay any of the bills. WSDOT is trying to track down the Texas driver and get the money out of him.

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