Trucker Pulls License Plate Switcheroo to Evade George Washington Bridge Tolls, Police Say

Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

A suspected toll evader employed James Bond-style tricks to evade tolls on the George Washington Bridge, using a device to switch the plates on his truck to avoid paying the $65 toll, according to the Port Authority Police Department.

Nelson Vaquiz, 36, of Beaverdam, Va., allegedly had a retractable front license plate that he activated before entering an E-ZPass lane on the bridge on Saturday morning. He did not have an E-ZPass device, which would have allowed him to be charged electronically.

“He had a cable hooked up to his license plate so when he drove up to the toll he was able to pull that particular cable up [and] hide his license plate from the E-Z Pass camera,” said Deputy Chief Keith Walcott of the Port Authority Police Department.

Vaquiz also bent up his rear plate so it couldn’t be read by cameras, police said. He was arrested and charged with eluding the toll, trying to elude police officers and possession of burglary tools, Walcott said.

Vaquiz was released on bail and his truck was impounded.

Police said he went through the E-ZPass lane on the New Jersey side of the bridge with a truck carrying pipes at 6:35 a.m. Saturday.

A Port Authority police officer saw Vaquiz’s license plate drop back into place and ordered him to pull over, but he didn’t, Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said. Other officers forced him to stop before he could go over the bridge and into New York, Marsico said.

See photos of toll evaders here.

Tolls on the bridge were increased last month, leading to an outcry from motorists, particularly those who drive larger vehicles that are typically assessed higher fees. Cash tolls for a five-axle truck rose from $40 to $65, and will increase to $105 on Dec. 6, 2015.

Some drivers hide their license plates when they pass through the gateless E-ZPass express lanes so the Port Authority cannot track them down and bill them.  That activity cost the Port Authority $14 million in 2009 and 2010.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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