PERRYVILLE, Md. — Cashless tolling at the Hatem Bridge is going through a bumpy start.
The state erroneously sent 22,000 drivers notices that they were speeding. The notices threatened drivers that, if it happened again, they'd lose their E-ZPass accounts.
It turns out, the notices were sent because of an equipment malfunction.
The notices are largely being met with anger and disbelief. Drivers claim they know they weren't speeding, and they're upset and anxious that their E-ZPass accounts could be suspended.
"I don't recall signing up for speed enforcement when I signed up for E-ZPass," said William Murr, an E-ZPass user.
The state sent Murr two separate notices that he sped through a cashless toll at the Hatem Bridge, which carries U.S. Route 40 over the Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Perryville. The warning says his E-ZPass account could be suspended for up to 60 days if he speeds again.
"That's the most disappointing part, because my wife and I rely on these transponders. She works in Delaware, also. Our bimonthly statement is usually around $400. So we absolutely rely on it to get back and forth to work," Murr said.
It turns out the state sent notices in error between Oct. 16 and Nov. 3. The postage cost taxpayers $20,000.
State officials said they've been sending out warning notices about speeding since 2014 in an effort to get drivers to slow down, but they've never suspended an E-ZPass account.
"The way that I found out the notices were invalid was via social media. I actually saw it on someone else's Facebook account," Murr said.
In an email, state officials explained that, when the Hatem Bridge went cashless, they didn't deactivate the warning software. So it appears drivers are speeding at the old tolls when they really aren't.
Murr wants the state to notify drivers of its error.
"Have a billboard up, maybe, posted to use caution going through. 'We made mistakes,' or maybe mail out a second notice saying the initial notice was not valid," Murr said.
State officials said they have corrected the problem. They advised customers to disregard the notices and they offered a full apology for any inconvenience they caused.