Trucker Scams N.Y. Tolls With Flipout Plates

September 4, 2008
Desperation among truckers in the day of near-$5-per-gallon diesel fuel is tangible. But since when did Mr. Wizard drive a truck?

As reported by the New York Daily News, Orlando Payano, a Queens truck driver, rigged a cable from his truck's cigarette lighter to his license plate, which he mounted on a spring-activated hinge that allowed it to flip upward. A pull on the cable, and Payano was able to obscure his license number as he cruised through the express lane of Goethals Bridge, ostensibly avoiding identification and payment for passage.

Payano hadn't counted on hawkeye Officer Edward Benenati, who was watching cars and trucks on the New Jersey side of the bridge on Aug. 26 and hoping to catch efforts to conceal license plate markings to run afoul of the toll system. When he saw Payano's plate flip upward, he alerted officers who arrested Payano on the Staten Island side of the bridge and charged him with toll evasion and license plate destruction. Payano was incredulous, denied the charges, and is seeking representation.

In the end, Payano will probably have to pay considerably more than the $40 it costs for a five-axle truck to pass through the toll. How many additional times he tried the ruse, if any, is not known.

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