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SunPass mistake results in suspended driver's license

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The state admits it dropped the ball, but 51 year old Wes Diebold lost his license over a 2 dollar mistake. The state admits it dropped the ball, but 51 year old Wes Diebold lost his license over a 2 dollar mistake.

Looking for a job is tough enough these days but how much tougher does having a suspended driver's license make things?

51 year old Wes Diebold doesn't know for sure if his suspended license was a roadblock, heck he didn't even know his license was suspended.

Seems Diebold drove through a SunPass electronic toll lane last July on his way to Tampa International Airport from his home in Lecanto.

He didn't have a transponder to pay electronically.

So after she dropped him off, Diebold's wife stopped at a toll booth on the Veterans Expressway and explained to a collector what happened.

He said she was given an enveloped with an address.

Three days later Diebold wrote a $2 dollar check to the Florida Department of Transportation to pay for the toll.

"I assumed everything was fine and dandy," Diebold said.

Wrong!

Six months later a letter arrived warning Diebold the state would suspend his license unless he paid off a ticket at the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court office. The $2 dollar toll he paid in Jul,July snow balled into a $217 dollar ticket

"I went to the bank, got a copy of the cashed check, faxed it to the Department of Transportation and they, the Department of Transportation told me everything was fine," he said.

Not fine enough.

In April when he tried to renew his tags, it was surprise time.

"The lady at the tag office tells me my license is suspended. Now my blood is instantly boiling," Diebold said. And he had been driving on a suspended license for two months.

Diebold contacted the Clerk of the Courts, only now it wanted $270 to reinstate the license.

He contacted 8 On Your Side.

This isn't the first time something like this has occurred.

79 year old Frank Mercurio of Brooksville sent a check to cover a 50 cent toll his wife went through in April 2012.

Cash collections at the Florida Turnpike Enterprise didn't square things with SunPass. Mercurio also discovered he'd lost his license.

8 On Your Side sent paperwork that showed Mercurio had in fact paid, to Christa Deason at Florida Turnpike Enterprise.

"They've got to do something to improve it," Mercurio said.

Within days, Mercurio's license was reinstated.

During the last 12 months, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles says 69,951 persons saw their licenses suspended by the courts for failure to pay a required toll.

Frank Mercurio was one, Wes Diebold is another.

We contacted the Turnpike Enterprise in the Diebold matter, looking for answers.

Deason said the address on the check with which Diebold paid FDOT did not match any address that the Department of Motor Vehicles had in its files, so the state couldn't connect the payment to Diebold. Diebold however printed his tag number of the check.

Deason said the Turnpike Enterprise dropped the ball in January because it did not contact the Clerk of the Court to ask for a dismissal of the case.

"All of these other departments that I contact weren't stepping up and helping out and you guys did," Diebold said.

Within two days of our contacting the Turnpike Enterprise, Diebold received notice his license was reinstated.

"It's 8 On Your Side, I don't mean to say it that way but I felt that you were one my side, that means a lot," he said.

Now when he fills out those job applications, Wes Diebold knows he is telling the truth when they ask if he has a valid driver's license.

 

 

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