Foreign license plate doesn’t mean driver’s cheating

 In blog, Crime News: Los Angeles Daily News

Foreign license plate doesn’t mean driver’s cheating

by Jim Radcliffe

Q. I was driving along the 91 Freeway, approaching the 241 toll road, when I noticed a car in front of me with Mexican license plates. I was wondering what would happen if a vehicle from outside the United States used the toll roads. Would the toll roads try to mail out a fine for not paying?

– Mario Luna, Anaheim

A. No.

Workers for the 241 and the other toll roads operated by the same folks – the 73, the 133 and the 261 – have access to many states’ databases, so they can use pictures of license plates and find out-of-staters and fine them if they didn’t pay the toll.

But the toll roads can’t get into databases of other countries.

“We can’t ping the Canadian DMV,” said Kit Cole, a spokeswoman for these toll roads.

On these particular toll roads, motorists can pay via an account using a transponder or a license-plate number. Or, if no account is set up, the driver can go online to pay within five days.

Vehicle owners who don’t pay typically get financially penalized; the bills that arrive in the mail are similar to unpaid parking tickets.

But first-time violators get a second chance to pay the toll without any penalty.

Don’t assume, though, that a foreign license plate means the driver is not paying to use a toll road.

These four toll roads have “thousands” of license plates from Mexico, Canada, Guam and other countries that have accounts with the agency that runs them, with the drivers paying their bills, Cole said.

Of course, that doesn’t mean some foreigners don’t skirt the rules and figure a bill will never show up in their mailboxes, although California Highway Patrol officers are out there on the toll roads looking for scofflaws and might come across them.

Q. Dear Honk: Do you or any of your helpers know how to get the word “Veteran” placed on a driver license?

– Robert Johnson, Fountain Valley

A. Honk’s crack helpers were all busy, so he ferreted out the answer himself:

Dust off your military discharge certificate, known as a DD 214.

Get into a County Veteran Service Office – best to make an appointment, via 844-737-8838 or at There, armed with your DD 214 and your driver license for ID, you can get a Veteran Status Verification Form.

Take that form to a Department of Motor Vehicles Office. Save yourself some grief and get an appointment there, too, at

Pay a one-time fee of five bucks on top of any other costs – those tied to a new, renewed or duplicate license – and, as you fine folks in the military say, you should be good to go.

Your reward, on a driver’s license or state ID Card, will be “VETERAN” added toward the bottom of either piece of identification.

Restaurants, fairs and stores sometimes offer discounts to those with that on their license.

“There’s all sorts of great benefits,” said Thora Chaves, a public information officer with the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

Honkin’ correction: In last week’s column, in The Orange County Register’s version, John Costigan asked a nifty question about lanes for slow-moving trucks. His city of residence was listed as Game Reserve. For the record, he does not live in a community with that name, or in a game reserve, either. He actually lives in picturesque Coto de Caza. Fortunately, Costigan, like all Honk readers, has a good sense of humor and found the gaffe amusing. Honk and his crack staff have no idea how the mistake snuck into his prose, but he does apologize.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online:

All credit goes to Jim Radcliffe Originally published on

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