Florida man accused of using license-plate cover to avoid tolls

Florida authorities arrested a 70-year-old man, accusing him of using a sophisticated remote-control device to cover his license plate and avoid paying tolls, the Miami Herald reported.

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Robert Craig Davis was arrested by Florida Highway Patrol on Nov. 17. Troopers said Davis used the remote to raise and lower a black cloth shield over his license plate so that toll cameras could not read his plate and send him a bill, the newspaper reported.

Florida drivers can automatically pay for tolls through SunPass, an electronic toll collection system. Other drivers can still go through the SunPass booth, but a camera takes a photograph of the plate and sends them invoices through a Toll By Plate system.

Earlier this year, Sammy and Mayte Salinas were driving on a toll expressway in Miami-Dade County when they saw Davis' van in front of them, with its license plate allegedly covered as it passed under a row of toll cameras, WFOR reported.

At the next toll-by-plate row of cameras, the Salinas used their own camera to film a black cover descending over the plate to cover it up, the television station reported.

In June, Billy Corben, a filmmaker from Miami Beach, posted a video clip on Twitter of the device obscuring a license plate, the Herald reported.

On Nov. 17, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alejandro Camacho was off duty but spotted Davis’ burgundy Chrysler Pacifica and a remote-controlled license plate cover on Florida’s Turnpike, the newspaper reported. Camacho alerted the FHP, and officers stopped Davis and discovered the device.

“The actions of the defendant showed an ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud the SunPass toll system,” trooper Dennis Gallo wrote in his report.

Davis, who lives in Key Largo, was arrested and charged with organized fraud and petit theft, the Herald reported. He was released the same day.

The minimum fine for obscuring a license plate for any reason in Florida is $179, WFOR reported.

Davis denied using the device, the television station reported.

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