CHOKEPOINTS

Temporary plates won’t get you out of a toll bill

Dec 1, 2016, 10:46 AM
toll lanes, toll, 405 toll lanes...
The I-405 toll lanes in Kirkland. (WSDOT)
(WSDOT)

There’s still confusion about the rules of tolling in Western Washington, even within the state’s department of transportation.

KIRO Radio listener Dave Walters says he was having trouble finding information about temporary plates and new cars on the Good to Go website. He wanted to know if cars with temp plates are tolled. He reached out to the customer service center for an answer, and the representative told him he would not be tolled.

Related: Basic Washington traffic laws that are broken all the time

“Vehicles with temporary license plates are not charged a toll due to the placement of the cameras not being able to view the back window,” the rep said in an email.

It turns out that representative is wrong. Cars with temporary paper plates are tolled, at least according to the toll division.

“We can work with the Department of Licensing and send a toll bill on a temporary plate, as long as people are installing them in the correct location,” said toll division spokesperson Ethan Bergerson.

If the plate is obscured or in the wrong spot and the cameras can’t read it, the state will send the picture to an employee for a closer look.

Bergerson said the state has a good track record of finding drivers and giving them a bill.

“Of all the trips on all the toll roads in the state, only about 1.5 percent of them are images that can’t be read,” he said.

So for drivers with temporary license plates, be sure to add that plate to your Good to Go account the day you get it so you can save the $2 per toll, and don’t forget to update it when you get your actual license plates. Otherwise you can expect a surprise toll bill in the mail.

Send Chris a traffic tip at @KIROTraffic on Twitter or email him.

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Temporary plates won’t get you out of a toll bill