Truckers have long complained about the high cost of tolls to haul freight in and out of New York City, which recently passed a huge toll increase. One trucker used a unique approach in an attempt to avoid a $65 toll on the George Washington Bridge Saturday morning.
Nelson Vaquiz was hauling a load of iron pipes north on Interstate 95 Saturday at around 6:30 a.m., when he was caught pulling a cord that made his license plate disappear just as he passed under the E-Z Pass toll camera. A sharp-eyed Port Authority police officer saw the plate mysteriously vanish and reappear.
Vaquiz fashioned the crude system with a wire cable that made his front Virginia license plate rise up and down. The device would allow him to pass through E-ZPass lanes at toll booths, but not get fined. He allegedly had the back plate on his trailer bent up so that it couldn’t be read by cameras.
“There was a cable in his front cab to retract the front plate,” a source told the New York Post. “Once he’s past the security cameras, he drops the plate back down.”
Vaquiz is a 36-year-old self-employed truck owner from Beaverdam, VA, who operates under the name “NY Speed.” He was charged with theft of service, possession of burglar tools and eluding. His Peterbilt tractor-trailer was impounded and he posted $5,000 bail.
The Post said public records show Vaquiz has been previously charged with numerous violations, including speeding; keeping a radar detector; operating an uninspected vehicle; having no safety inspection; not observing traffic signs; not keeping a logbook; and failure to secure a load.
Fare-beating at gateless tolls has become an increasing problem for the Port Authority. Some drivers have racked up bills as high as $30,000 in unpaid tolls and fines, according to the Post report.
“We’ve lost approximately $14 million to toll cheats in 2009 and 2010 alone,” according to Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico. “We take E-ZPass violations very seriously. Our officers are on the lookout for scams. We hope this action will send a message to others.”