Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The things red-light and toll scofflaws will do to get out of a ticket

There's always a little thrill that comes with beating the system.

Whether it's sneaking into the box seats from the nosebleed section, or moving the car after your allotted time but just before the meter reader arrives.

Now come tollbooth and red-light cameras, a digital-world challenge that some foolhardy and cheating souls are taking to the extreme.

Photographs from Florida's Department of Transportation have captured SunPass tollbooth runners in acts of head-shaking audacity.

A car blows through while a passenger in the trunk sticks a hand out to cover the tag.

A motorcyclist lies prone on his seat so his feet can dangle over the back to obscure the plate. If a squirrel should cross his path, there's not a chance in the world he can brake quickly, but he just saved $1.

"Sometimes people find themselves at a toll booth without money and just panic,'' said Christa Deason, a DOT spokeswoman.

But the photos don't capture people in one-time acts of desperation, she said. They show habitual offenders who repeatedly travel the same route. And their antics result in Highway Patrol stakeouts. "The troopers always get you," she said, even when the cameras don't.

Then there are those who try to capitalize on our rebellious ways.

Websites tout various products to beat red-light cameras and speed cameras, including fake mud to spray on SUVs, lending the appearance of a recent romp in the woods with ... oops ... a few dollops on the license plate.

Other sprays purport to create a high gloss that reflects so much light that the camera's image overexposes.

Plastic films and other plate covers claim to distort the numbers. One cover even had tiny louvers, so anyone looking at street level could see the plate but a pole-mounted camera, shooting from a higher angle, could not.

Florida law is clear about such shenanigans. They're illegal.

It is considered a moving violation, with points on your record, to alter a license tag in any way, including with any coating, spray or material that makes it illegible from any angle.

License tag alteration comes in many forms and the Highway Patrol does not keep statistics of different methods, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, spokesman in the Tampa office.

Someone driving on an expired tag, for example, might use green tape to try to make a "4" look like a "9."

Gaskins has seen department bulletins on the various methods people can use to foil cameras. It's ironic, Gaskins said, because "they don't work.''

One reflective spray, "Photoblocker'' sells for $29.99 a can, enough to cover four tags, the company's website says.

The television show Mythbusters examined Photoblocker spray, films and other devices in 2007 and found that none obscured the tag.

The only way to beat a red light camera was to blast through the intersection at no less than 200 miles per hour, said Mythbusters, using a jet-powered car to make their point.

Photoblocker representatives could not be reached for comment. Their website does include a caveat disclosing that its product might be illegal in certain jurisdictions.

"We do not condone red light running,'' the site proclaims. "Our products are designed to provide law abiding motorists protection from faulty red light/speed cameras ONLY.''

Want to be a dealer? Photoblocker will sell you 300 cans for just under $3,000 and throw in an extra 100 for free.

Or, if you prefer, you can be an "affiliate'' and talk your friends into selling the spray, too. When they earn, you earn.

Sort of like a pyramid.

The things red-light and toll scofflaws will do to get out of a ticket 06/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 9:02am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  2. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  3. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  4. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  5. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.