Oceanside woman fights excessive penalties after getting $50K toll bill

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One Southern California woman is facing a nearly $50,000 toll bill after she says she drove on toll roads for years without knowing she hadn't paid the fines. (KABC)

One Southern California woman is facing a nearly $50,000 toll bill after she says she drove on toll roads for years without knowing she hadn't paid the fines.

Sherri Hutton admits it was an oversight on her part, which led to the massive toll bill.

"I was a little overwhelmed at the time, with three kids and working full time and a husband deployed," she said.

Hutton said her husband, a Marine, was deployed to Iraq nearly 12 years ago. She used FasTrak for several months to get her son to school and herself to work. She said she didn't realize her debit card used for FasTrak automatic payments had changed.

"The bank never notified me and I'm not sure where the Toll Roads notifications were going, but we never received them at the house," she said.

The Toll Roads said Hutton's fines grew because she did not respond to dozens of violation notices and made no voluntary payments on a nearly $30,000 judgement in 2006, according to court documents.

But Hutton said she was not aware of a problem until a year later, when she was served with a wage garnishment.

Hutton said she joined a class action lawsuit against the agency in 2009, which alleges the penalties were "constitutionally excessive."

In a settlement, Toll Roads agreed to waive more than $40,000 in penalties. For Hutton, that meant a $5,000 credit, which she said the toll roads took along with garnished wages. In total, Hutton had about $16,000 garnished.

Hutton said she thought that would be end of it, but when the family moved back to the area last June, the Toll Roads took money from one of their bank accounts.

She said she's willing to pay the missed tolls, but not the penalties because the family has no way to pay the high amounts.

The Toll Road said it cannot comment on the specific case, but said it is the account holder's responsibility to ensure their tolls are paid.

"We understand people are busy and may forget to update their credit card, contact or vehicle information...The Toll Roads has a robust notification system including robo calls, texts, emails and mailed letters to alert our customers if there is a problem with their account," the Transportation Corridor Agencies said in a statement.

Her next court date is next month, but she said she hopes to work out an agreement before then.
Related Topics:
newslawsuitbillsmoneytoll roadSan Diego County
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