Florida: Court Approves Detaining Motorists at Toll Booth
US Court of Appeals upholds right of toll road operators to detain drivers for using large denomination currency.
Motorists can be held indefinitely at toll booths if they pay with large denomination bills, according to a federal appeals court ruling handed down Wednesday. A family of drivers — Joel, Deborah and Robert Chandler — filed suit last year arguing they were effectively being held hostage by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the private contractor in charge of the state’s toll road, Faneuil, Inc.
Under FDOT policies in place at the time, motorists who paid with $50 bills, and occasionally even $5 bills, were not given permission to proceed until the toll collector filled out a “Bill Detection Report” with data about the motorist’s vehicle and details from his driver’s license. Many of those who chose to pay cash did so to avoid the privacy implications of installing a SunPass transponder that recorded their driving habits. They were likewise unwilling to provide personal information to the toll collector, but they had no alternative because the toll barrier would not be raised without compliance. FDOT policy does not allow passengers to exit their vehicle, and backing up is illegal and usually impossible while other cars wait behind. FDOT dropped the Bill Detection Reports in 2010.
A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals did not buy the argument that these motorist detentions rose to the level of a constitutional violation.
This case shows that the US government now even thinks that if you carry cash (which is legal tender) that you are a suspicious character. What comes next? Will some people “disappear” like in the old Soviet Union? And now private contractors have police enforcement powers?
If having a $50 dollar bill in your pocked can be considered suspicious and $50 will not even pay for lunch for 4 people most places, can having a check-book or charge card be far behind? The simple fact of the matter is that the US government at all levels thinks it owns you. Owns your ass son! And for now, I guess they do.