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California drivers are suing, claiming they were charged with criminal infraction for toll violation

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Dec 10, 2019

Car 1280

SANTA ANA, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – The Orange County Transportation Authority and others are facing a lawsuit from drivers who allege they have been wrongfully accused of a criminal infraction for not having an account while accessing the county's "pay-by-plate" express lanes.

Sanket Thakur, on behalf of himself and all other persons and entities similarly situated, filed a complaint Nov. 15 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Southern Division against Cofiroute USA LLC, Orange County Transportation Authority and the Riverside County Transportation Commission alleging violation of the California Streets & Highways Code. 

The suit states the defendants are transportation agencies that operate an electronic toll collection system on the 91 Express Lanes

Takur alleges that he and other class members who received citations for driving the 91 Express Lanes that use the pay-by-plate toll without a "FasTrak" account were falsely accused of committing a criminal infraction. He alleges he and the class members were sent notices of toll evasion violation and notices of delinquent toll evasion violation, which he claims are "false accusations of criminality."

"This improper claim was made despite the fact that, as the public record demonstrates, defendants themselves knew that the class members ... had not possibly committed any criminal infraction punishable under the California Penal Code by virtue of the class members ... having driven the 91 Express Lanes during the class period ... without any of the class members ... having had a valid FasTrak account because the 23302.5 violations were entirely civil in nature and did not even possibly constitute a criminal infraction punishable under the California Penal Code," the suit states.

Takur and the class seek to have the defendants pay the penal fines of between $250 million and $1 billion and other just relief. The plaintiff is represented by attorneys with McGrane PC in San Francisco, California; RealLaw APC in Walnut Creek, California; and the Cardoze Law Corp. in Newport Beach, California.

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Southern Division case number 8:18-CV-02233-JVS-KES

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U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Southern Division

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