Those drivers who think they're getting a free ride on the South Bay Expressway may soon learn otherwise.
After dealing with a number of users who opted out of paying the required toll, the company has started placing holds on auto registrations with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
"We ask the DMV to put a hold on your registration when that violator goes to renew their vehicle registration, they can't do it until they pay up," said Greg Hulsizer, CEO of South Bay Expressway.
The program has proved successful. Since the company began placing holds in May, South Bay Expressway has collected $9,000 in tolls and fines.
Hulsizer said registration holds are given to those who repeatedly ignore letters and collection notices.
The single worst violator has $4,000 in unpaid tolls and $10,000 in fines. "This person ignores all the letters and notices but continues to drive on the highway every day," Hulsizer said.
Unpaid tolls incur a fine of $50. If ignored, the fine doubles to $100.
Driving on the Highway 125 toll road without paying seemed like a common occurrence when speaking to Eastlake residents.
"Yeah, I've done that before. And that's when I went for (the Fastrak) because I got a ticket," said Rosie Quijada, who said she saves 15 to 20 minutes driving to work on the South Bay Expressway.
Quijada said she called the company and told them she didn't realize she violated the toll because she was using a different car. "I called them and they brought it down to $12. So I was able to pay $12 that day," said Quijada.
Others can also pay by phone or the web within four days of using the toll road.
Melanie Lopez said she's driven on the toll road several times without pre-paying, but she has paid after using the phone. "I have to call and pay with my credit card if I don't have cash with me," she said.
Paying after the fact costs $2 more than the usual toll.
Fines must be paid in full before the registration hold can be released. South Bay Expressway advised violators to call to discuss payment options as soon as possible. "Once it gets to a DMV hold, they have to pay all of those in order for us to clear them," Hulsizer said.