Trucker uses license plate trick to avoid NY tolls

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

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.”

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