'Ask Trooper Steve:' Do I really have to pay the tolls on Florida roads?

Trooper Steve explains why we have tolls and how to approach them

ORLANDO, Fla. – In this week's "Ask Trooper Steve," News 6 Traffic Safety Expert Steven Montiero answers everything you need to know about tolls in Florida.

"Are there any special rules to know about toll plazas?" Karen, of Sanford, asked.

Trooper Steve said he often hears that drivers are unsure of how to approach tolls, so he sat down and answered a few questions you might also have. Read the full Q&A below.

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Q: Why do we have tolls?
A: "Toll roads can be frustrating, but when it comes to getting around in Central Florida, they are definitely a necessity. The funds are used to maintain the roadway and build further highways to increase the ease in getting around."

Q: What happens if I don’t have an E-PASS or any cash on me when I drive through the toll lane?
A: "No money? Well, first, you shouldn't be using toll roads if you already know you can't pay to use them. Now, if for some reason you catch yourself out and about on the road and end up needing to drive through a toll with no spare change, don't panic. Some toll authorities will let it slide once or twice, but don't count on that completely. After driving through an unpaid toll, keep a watchful eye on the mail, a tiny bill could show up in your mailbox."

Q: What if I can’t get over in time to go through the toll lanes?
A: "No toll is worth creating a dangerous situation. If traffic is too bad, or you simply are having a busy-minded day, always remember they can bill you for the toll later. Changing lanes rapidly just so that you can break your $20 bill is never worth it. Being prepared is something I preach all the time. Always look ahead at where you are going and set yourself for success."

Q: I don’t live in Florida. Do I still have to pay tolls?
A: "Um, that's a 100% yes! Living outside the state does not excuse you from paying tolls. That's the same for Floridians visiting other states, also. Many rest areas sell different types of automated toll payment devices that can be used for anyone, Floridians or not."

Q: Are toll roads public roads?
A: "Most toll roads are considered "limited access roads" and are private property. So, if you're not wanting to pay, then traveling on local roads may be more your thing."

[RELATED: When are you permitted to use your hazard lights while driving? | Ask Trooper Steve: Avoiding rage behind the wheel? | Ask Trooper Steve: When should my high beams be on or off?]

Q: Do speed limits differ based on the toll lane I use?
A: "If you drive our roads often, you have seen the evolution of the toll road system. Over recent years, toll authorities have started creating the "high-speed toll lanes". These high-speed lanes allow drivers with prepaid toll devices in their cars to continue traveling at whatever the posted speed limit is for the roadway they are traveling on. On the other hand, if you are approaching a more narrow toll in which you have to stop and pay, or provide funds to a toll collector, then you must slow your speed to the posted speed limit for that toll. In most cases, this is 25 mph, and you better be careful because this is enforceable."

Q: Are there safety tips I should know when using the toll lanes?
A: "Be constantly aware. You have to remember that there are employees working at these tolls and walking at times from kiosk to kiosk. A patient and courteous driver is always a safer driver."

You can ask Trooper Steve any questions you may have by emailing Watch News 6 Mornings Monday and Thursday to see if he answers your question on air.

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