KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 26: Nikolay Davydenko of Russia collects tolls at the Key Biscayne Toll Booths during day three of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 26, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
It's official: no more toll booths on the Gratigny Parkway.
The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority put together a glossy, highly-produced video that looks like a Publix commercial to tell us all about it.
"Safer driving with no toll plaza accidents, this is open road tolling, and this summer, it's coming to MDX expressways," says a mellifluous female voice over images of mom taking the kids out in the minivan and a couple breezing down the highway in a convertible.
"People have asked, what if I don't have a Sunpass?," says MDX Executive Director Steve Andriuk. "We have a system called toll by plate. We capture the image of the license plate, tie it in with the registration and send you a bill in the mail."
Open road tolling is the way of the future. The Florida Turnpike Extension in Miami-Dade will soon be switching to the same system, and combined with the spread of red-light cameras, a cottage industry has developed in gadgets that supposedly let you hide from Big Brother's watchful eyes. They're all over the Internet, everything from a plastic shield that supposedly distorts the numbers and letters on your plate to a spray that makes your plate too shiny for a camera to capture to a remote-controlled system that flips your license plate down and then back up again after you pass the toll sensor.
"Wireless remote, flip the plate down, no more tickets, that simple, say goodbye to photo radar. Goodbye," says the guy hawking his product on YouTube.
The problem with these gadgets? They're against the law in Florida and many other states.
As Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Wysocky explains, "Anything you try to cover or obscure your plates so it cannot be read or detected for a red light camera, Sunpass toll or any other tolling system is gonna be illegal."
Get caught using one of those things on your plate, and you're hit with a second degree misdemeanor. Might as well shell out five bucks for a Sunpass, and forget about having to slow down at a toll booth.