Glenn was outraged the moment he opened the envelope.

Hank, 7News”Did you blow through EZ Pass without paying?”

Glenn, Mass. Resident”No, I did not.”

Barbara knew the toll violation she got was a mistake, too.

Hank, 7News”Is this you?”

Barbara, Mass. Resident”Absolutely no way.”

These Massachusetts drivers and countless others are getting tickets for someone else's out-of-state toll violations.

Elaine, Mass. Resident”I was upset, and said, 'How could this be?”

Our investigation uncovered a bizarre flaw in the EZ Pass toll collection systems. It accuses innocent drivers, and what's more amazing, let's the guilty ones get away.

The chairman of the 22-state turnpike system had no idea.

Hank, 7News”So before we told you about this, did you know this was happening?”

Walter Kristilbas, EZ Pass Interagency Group”No, no.”

Here's where it starts: license plates. The Massachusetts registry issues not only passenger plates, but also many kinds of specialty plates: commercial, camper, political, ambulance, Cape and Islands and more.Problem is, many plates have the same numbers. For example, there could be Massachusetts passenger plate 1234, Red Sox 1234, Cape and Islands 1234 and so on.

Here's Glenn's car with passenger plate 659-. We've covered one number for privacy reasons. Here's the violation. You can see it is a veteran's plate with the same number.

Glenn, Mass. Resident”It's confusion. Confusion they're confused.”

Here's where the system breaks down: when a car with a Massachusetts specialty plate blows the tolls in New York or New Jersey. Our investigation found when clerks in those states search Massachusetts records to find the violators name they only enter the plate's numbers, not its specialty.

Hank, 7News”Right now can they enter Red Sox 1234?”

Walter Kristilbas, EZ Pass Interagency Group”Absolutely not.”

Hank, 7News”No?”

Walter Kristilbas, EZ Pass Interagency Group”No.”

As a result, the violation goes to the owner of the passenger plate, who was not on the road at all. Like Elaine, she has a passenger plate. Her violation photo shows the same number veteran plate.

Barbara's got a passenger license. Her violation is for the duplicate camper plate.

Hank, 7News”What do you think about that?”

Barbara, Mass. Resident”It's stupid actually.”

Big picture: every time a specialty plate blows the tolls, the system decides it's a regular passenger plate and threatens an innocent person with a fine.

Hank, 7News”The wrong people are getting tickets.”

Walter Kristilbas, EZ Pass Interagency Group”Simply put, yes.”

The Massachusetts registrar did not know local drivers were getting duped by duplicates.

Hank, 7News”That's not her car!”

Registrar Anne Collins, Mass. RMV”That's just plain wrong.”

As it turns out, the Massachusetts registry is not involved in the out-of-state search process. It just provides a driver database.

Hank, 7News”Do the records they search show specialty plates?”

Registrar Anne Collins, Mass. RMV”Yes.”

Hank, 7News”So they're just not looking them up?”

Registrar Anne Collins, Mass. RMV”They're not looking them up the right way.”

But the injustice does not stop here. Remember Barbara, Elaine and Glenn didn't blow the tolls. But some Massachusetts driver did! And we discovered they get a free ride.

Hank, 7News”When they find that someone has improperly gotten a ticket, do they go after the real violator?”

Registrar Anne Collins, Mass. RMV”No.”

That is right. They decided it is too expensive to track them down.

Hank, 7News”So that means not only is an innocent person getting a violation, but the guilty person is getting away with it?”

Walter Kristilbas, EZ Pass Interagency Group”At this point, yes.”

And now, as a direct result of our investigation, EZ Pass officials tell us the necessary changes are in the works. Their new goal: make sure more innocent people don't become violation victims.

(Copyright (c) 2006 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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