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Follow along as we tell the tale of a man who totaled his minivan, then began receiving toll and traffic violations from all over the country. After the van was totaled. While sitting in the wrecking yard. Did we mention it was totaled before all of these tickets and such began appearing in his mailbox? 

Lee Oursler totaled his minivan in Ohio. Over the next several weeks, he began to get toll fines and violations in the mail. “I received two notices of violation,” he told KHOU 11. “Then they keep sending more. Here’s a stack of all the violations.” 

Why is the van owner getting all of these tolls and fines?

traffic tickets
Even the rich and famous can get traffic tickets | Getty

There are EZ Pass toll bills from both New York and New Jersey. But the Ohio resident hasn’t been to those states in years. But when Oursler waved goodbye to his trusty van, he didn’t do one thing. He didn’t take the license plates off of it first. So it went to the wrecking yard with the plates that are now having violations written against them. Or more accurately, against him.

“We don’t know what the answer is,” said son-in-law Ken Heim. “We still don’t know how to get an end to it, so I find that very frustrating.” What we know is that toll booth plate readers only read the plates. Then the fee is sent to the registered owner of the plates. So a plate with an unexpired tag is quite a money saver in the hands of thieves. 

Find out what to do with your license plates on a totaled vehicle

Close-up of a person counting out dollar bills
Dollar bills | Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

So rule number one, no matter what state you live in, is to find out what your DMV recommends you do with your license plates from a wrecked car. In Ohio, the DMV recommends never letting license plates go with the car. If your vehicle is towed off somewhere, get the insurance company to retrieve the plates. 

If you have license plates that are stolen from your car, report the theft immediately to the DMV and your local police. Advising the DMV will stop any possibility of this happening to you. And reporting the theft to the police will aid in possibly tracking down the thieves, and also retrieving your plates. 

“If I would have taken the license plate off, that would have been the end of it right there,” Oursler told KHOU 11. The TV station did try to contact the EZ Pass authorities but hasn’t received a response. So in the immediate future, Oursler is expecting the steady stream of toll fees and tickets to continue to show up in his mailbox.


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