MIAMI — Drivers on a 47-mile stretch of Florida's Turnpike won't have to stop or slow down to pay tolls starting in 2011.
Traditional tollbooths between the Miami-Dade County line and Florida City will be removed starting this year, and all drivers will eventually pay their tolls electronically through either SunPass transponders or a new "toll-by-plate" program.
The new program aims to reduce emissions — because motorists won't be idling at tollbooths — and increase safety.
Under the new program, turnpike equipment will capture an image of a license plate on cars that don't have a SunPass. The plate number will be compared to the motor vehicle registration database, and a bill will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle for the toll amount.
To pay, customers can wait for the bill to come in the mail or they can open a special "toll-by-plate" account. If people don't pay, they will receive a traffic ticket and be assessed a higher fine.
Payment kiosks for "toll-by-plate" accounts will also be set up at various locations, such as major retailers.
The system will not change for motorists who use SunPass transponders; they will still receive discounts. The "toll-by-plate" rate will be the same as the cash toll rate, often 25 cents more than the SunPass rate.
That 47-mile portion of the turnpike was chosen to be the first for electronic tolling because more than 70 percent of the people already use a SunPass transponder when using that part of the road daily.
Even tourists can use the "Toll-by-Plate" system, officials said, because Florida's Turnpike Enterprise will be able to compare out-of-state plate information with other states' motor vehicle databases.
The all-electronic toll collection will stretch to Broward County by 2012.