Pikepass errors stir fine mess in Oklahoma

JULIE BISBEE, Capitol Bureau Modified: June 3, 2009 at 7:51 am •  Published: June 3, 2009
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The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will stop issuing automatic violations for failure to pay tolls until the agency can match its records with Tax Commission records new license plate numbers.

Until Tuesday, the violations were automatically generated by a computer system that manages the toll system. Errors occurred when a Pikepass was misread and the computer could not match the photographed license plate number to an active Pikepass account.

Nearly half of all vehicles registered in Oklahoma have new plates and possibly new tag numbers since the state unveiled new license plates in January. This means Pikepass customers in good standing may be getting $25 violation notices because their account information does not match their new vehicle tag numbers, said Jack Damrill, spokesman for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

In the past month, the Turnpike Authority has mailed 90,179 violation notices, about six times more than what the authority sends out in a typical month, Damrill said. The number includes motorists whose Pikepasses were not correctly scanned at a toll plaza and their license plate information is out of date. That number also includes people who traveled on the state’s tollways without paying for their trip.

Since November, the Tax Commission and the Turnpike Authority have been working on a computer program that would list old tag numbers with corresponding new license plate numbers. Employee turnover and compatibility problems between the two agency computer systems has slowed the process.

"It kind of caught us by surprise,” said Darwin Stewart, assistant director of Pikepass operations. "We are working that direction and hope to get it resolved.”

Stewart said the program is expected to be complete by the end of the month.

What’s the problem?
A Pikepass can be misread when the pass is not properly affixed under the rearview mirror inside the front windshield of a vehicle. The fines were forgiven as soon as customers contacted the authority with the updated information. Stewart said violation notices were sent to addresses, but tracking accounts with addresses is not a reliable way to ensure someone has an account.


Tips: What you can do
If you are a Pikepass customer in good standing, you can get rid of the violation notices by:


• Going to pikepass.com and updating your information. Customers must have an existing online account.


• Calling the Turnpike Authority at (800) 745-3727 to update information. If you have received a violation notice, you should call 755-1221. The Turnpike Authority is receiving a high volume of calls, and there could be delays.


• Going to a Pikepass service center, not a tag agent. Service centers are at 4401 W Memorial Road, Suite 130, in Oklahoma City and 6212 S 57th West Ave. in Tulsa.


• Mailing updated information or a fine to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Enforcement Branch, P.O. Box 960007, Oklahoma City, OK 73196-0001

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