Tollway troubles: Tips to avoid Illinois Tollway violations

OAK CREEK — In Wisconsin, it's common to complain about Illinois drivers, but Contact 6 has been seeing frustrations with the Illinois Tollway. Multiple people have reached out to Contact 6 about violation notices they didn't think they should have to pay.

Mark Schuster from Oak Creek got an unexpected letter from the Illinois Tollway.

"Stating that my tag went through a couple of tolls without paying the fee," Schuster said. "You know, you're innocent and you're being told you're guilty."

Here's the problem: The vehicle caught by Illinois Tollway cameras wasn't Schuster's.

"My heart kind of stopped. I'm like, 'Ugh, are you kidding me?'" Schuster recalled.

Trying to clear up the issue left Schuster as frustrated as a driver in Chicago's famous rush hour traffic.

"You get to your wits' end because you make phone calls and you get nowhere," Schuster said.

He's not the only one who reached out to Contact 6 with a complaint about the tollway.

Adrienne Kiesler from Trevor discovered she was being overcharged at tolls because her transponder was registered as a semi-tractor trailer.

"I said, 'Semi-tractor trailer? These are registered to little passenger vehicles,'" Kiesler said. "They told me that, 'Sorry. There's nothing that we can do.'"

Wisconsin drivers heading south of the border are shelling out at tolls.

According to data obtained by Contact 6, the Illinois Tollway has 4.5 million I-Pass accounts and nearly 11 percent have Wisconsin addresses. Drivers from Wisconsin receive 7 percent of the tollway's violation notices.

"I can only imagine how many more people are dealing with this," Kiesler said.

Contact 6 helped her get a refund of $240.

However, other Wisconsin drivers with violations may suffer from lack of education about the tolls.

If you forget toll money, you have up to seven days to pay online or by mail. To do so, you'll need to note the time and toll plaza. If your license plate is registered to an I-Pass, the transaction will automatically post to your account as a video toll.

If you realize too late that you're in the wrong lane, you won't get a violation notice until the third time you drive through a toll without paying within in one year.

For those who know they're planning a trip to or through Illinois, you can add a new vehicle to an I-Pass last minute or calculate how much tolls will cost you on GetIPass.com.

Contact 6 helped Schuster get confirmation from the Wisconsin DMV that the car seen on his violation was not his. Though, he did have a car with the same license plate back in the 90s. The Illinois Tollway sent Schuster a letter saying his ticket had been dropped, but the experience has him vowing to take the long way around the Land of Lincoln.

"I said, 'I would take the ferry across to Michigan if I had to go to Indiana. I wouldn't drive through your state,'" he said.

You can save 50 percent on tolls by using an I-Pass, which you can order online. If your I-Pass isn't in the car, you can go through tolls up to five times and pay as a video toll. After that, you be charged the full rate.

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