Not only can you get out of paying the FasTrak violation penalty, FasTrak even encourages you to do so.
Yesterday I found myself driving on I-880 near the Automall Parkway for the first time since the Express Lanes became operational and, driving with my Dad as passenger, I noticed the Express Lane showed “HOV Only.”Embed from Getty Images
I assumed that meant if you were travelling with 2 or more occupants, even without a FasTrak toll tag, you could use the Express Lanes.
I later found out, nope, anytime you’re travelling in the Express Lanes you must have a registered Fastrak Toll Tag displayed and set to the correct position, no ifs, ands, or buts.
In a couple of weeks, I’d be getting a $25 violation penatly in the mail.
If you’re like me and hate paying fines, no matter how small (because of the principle!) I have good news.
You CAN get out of paying the $25 fine, and here’s how.
Step 1-Register for a FastTak account within 30 days of the violation.
First, begin registering for an account. (Click here.)
You’ll be charged $25, $5 for the toll tag and $20 as a pre-paid balance for Express Lane toll payments.
Step 2—Backdate the starting date to before your violation.
On step 2 of 3 they’ll ask you to put a start date when you want the Fastrak account to take effect.
Here’s the trick, you can backdate the starting date to before your violation!
It’s not even some kind of secret, they even allow you to back date your FasTrak account for up to 30 days in the past!
“To waive a violation, you can backdate the Effective Start Date up to 30 days before today’s date. Once the vehicle has been added to your account, any violation penalties will be dismissed and the original toll amounts will be deducted from your account balance.”
Step 3- Get your refund
At this point, with a registered toll tag, you have two choices.
If you see yourself driving in the Bay Area (or other location with express lanes) in the near future, you can affix the toll tag to your windshield and use it as intended.
But, if you want your remaining balance back (that $25 you gave them minus whatever your now legal toll was) you simply close your account, mail the tag back within 10 days, and wait for your refund to arrive.
According to FasTrak,“If you close your account, FasTrak refunds the deposit to you when you return the toll tag in good condition. FasTrak also refunds any remaining balance on your account if you close your account.”
“You can return your toll tag in person or by mail to the FasTrak Customer Service Center. If you are returning the toll tag by mail, FasTrak recommends sending the toll tag by certified or registered mail to P.O. Box 26927, San Francisco, CA 94126.”
Click here to see how to begin closing your account.
Let’s say you use an Express Lane that cost $12 to use, but you don’t have a toll tag because, you’re not registered.
Using the method above, you can either pay the $25 violation or you can register for a toll tag, wait for it to arrive, and then close your account ASAP.
You’d get a $13 refund check, $5 for the toll tag and $8 of the remaining balance.
If you don’t return the toll tag, you’d get an $8 check.
There is, of course, the cost to mail the toll tag back…so, keep that in mind.
Theoretically, for my situation, where the HOV lane is free, after I receive my tag and my toll violation is retroactively erased for the correct toll $0, I should be able to get a $25 check back (minus the cost to mail, I know, I know.)
If you’re all about the principle of it all, yes, you can avoid paying the violation penalty.
And, it’s, quite honestly, not that hard to do!
I’ll update this blog post with how well getting my refund turns out for me.