For Whom The Toll Bells
January 14, 2011 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Tolls and toll roads are a fact of modern life. If you run past the booth without paying for any reason, you must pay a fine. A Chinese man has been sentenced to life in prison for not paying tolls.
posted by Xurando (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
He allegedly has failed to pay $550,000 in tolls over a period of 8 months.

I believe he was travelling back and forth on gold-plated roads, free of potholes, free of traffic, replete with inspiring landscape and scenery, on his way to Shangri-la.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:10 AM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


You could have bought your very own toll bridge in the leafy Oxfordshire countryside for a mere £1.1m in 2009. All income is tax-free and the bridge is not subject to inheritance tax. By law, nobody can have a bridge within 3 miles.

But if you shut the bridge, you have to run a ferry service. Apparently.

Some people don't like the 5p toll and want it scrapped.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:11 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I try to keep my bridge in good condition, but those damn billy-goats just keep trip-trapping along, right over my head.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:14 AM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I tell my GPS (and other mapping services) to avoid toll roads. If a public service is privatized in the forest but you don't drive on it, is it a fact of modern life?
posted by DU at 9:15 AM on January 14, 2011


Everyone knows you have to pay the troll toll to get into this boy's hole.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:17 AM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ugh, half a mil in tolls in 8 months? Fucking ridiculous.

“Rape and murder will earn you 15 years in prison but evading road charges will get you life,”

At least back in the day murder got you a guaranteed bullet to the head, so I think that's a bit of hyperbole.
posted by kmz at 9:18 AM on January 14, 2011


That's simply intollerable.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:23 AM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I believe he was travelling back and forth on gold-plated roads, free of potholes, free of traffic, replete with inspiring landscape and scenery, on his way to Shangri-la.

In all seriousness, China does put a ridiculous amount of effort into highway landscaping.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:27 AM on January 14, 2011


It's the arbitrary enforcement of the law that outrages people. Citizens see elected officials and those lucky enough to be connected to them openly flouting the laws. Then they come down on this guy who evaded $500,000 in tolls in order to make $30,000. Usually I'm a China apologist and way more willing to give China the benefit of the doubt about its policies, but it's stuff like this (see also My Father is Li Gang) adding up that's as likely to cause instability as say the more high-profile jailing of dissidents (which most general Chinese netizens seem to get less worked up about).
posted by jng at 9:40 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's something I have actually wondered about.

Shouldn't toll roads make enforcing speed limits a trivial matter?

When you get on the road, you are given a ticket which notes the time and date. When you get off the road, you hand the ticket to someone else who can also note the time and date.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Jones. To have arrived here this quickly you had to have averaged 75.6 miles per hour over the distance you traveled. That will be $1.25 for the toll, and here is a $150.00 ticket for speeding. Have a nice day."

Does anyone do this?
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:40 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ask not for whom the (bell) tolls.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:43 AM on January 14, 2011


Damn, according to the facts, sounds like that dude was BUSY. 10 trips per day, every day, on average, for 8 months. Presuming the number of trips claimed is accurate. He's hauling sand and gravel for a living, so if the tolls are weight based for trucks, it's entirely possible that he *did* evade $550k in fines... But if so, a $200+ toll per trip seems INSANE. There's no way that any business could justify paying those kinds of tolls.
posted by antifuse at 9:43 AM on January 14, 2011


Shouldn't toll roads make enforcing speed limits a trivial matter?
...
Does anyone do this?


If they did, it would *definitely* hurt business, as people that wanted to speed stopped taking toll roads. I've never heard of any toll road doing it.
posted by antifuse at 9:45 AM on January 14, 2011


Curious Artificer: "Does anyone do this?"

Why in the world would I want people afraid to use my toll roads? This is literally the worst idea.
posted by boo_radley at 9:47 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's the arbitrary enforcement of the law that outrages people. Citizens see elected officials and those lucky enough to be connected to them openly flouting the laws.

Elected officials... ha, that's a good one.

One of the myriad of reasons I'm not even going to think about trying to drive in China is the impunity with which cars with military plates will flout the law. I remember seeing a military plate Mercedes driving entirely the wrong way down a busy road because there was a traffic jam in the direction it wanted to go. And even when they do actually get stopped by traffic cops, they just tear up the ticket and go on their way.
posted by kmz at 10:01 AM on January 14, 2011


Interesting. China Daily, China's English-langauge state newspaper, which usually echoes the party line, makes this note at the very end of their article:
Che said if Shi had only evaded toll fees, he would only be asked to make the payments. But his use of fake documents to "win the trust" of officials meant his actions could be interpreted as fraud and he would be held legally responsible, the lawyer said.

But Che also expressed doubt about the sum of money that the court said Shi Jianfeng had evaded.

"The court ought to explain how it calculated the amount of money evaded and how prosecutors argued for its authenticity," he said.

The punishment would not be so severe if the sum was not that big, he added.
Could be a hint that some kind of deal might be worked out?
posted by jng at 10:03 AM on January 14, 2011


This is why I fly over the tollbooth, Dukes of Hazard style.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:03 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is why I fly over the tollbooth, Dukes of Hazard style.

Failed dry run.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:33 AM on January 14, 2011


Ass, gas, or grass, or Chinese toll roads. No one rides for free.
posted by three blind mice at 10:36 AM on January 14, 2011


"I'm sorry, Mr. Jones. To have arrived here this quickly you had to have averaged 75.6 miles per hour over the distance you traveled. That will be $1.25 for the toll, and here is a $150.00 ticket for speeding. Have a nice day."

A better option would be variable toll depending on speed. Set up a system of no limit highways, make 'em free if you average 55 or less, and above that charge a per-mile toll that increases with your average speed. The tolls could be calculated based on road safety statistics, and apportioned between road maintenance and emergency services, in such a way as to cover the higher "cost to society" of fast driving. (And meanwhile, the existing laws on reckless driving, vehicular manslaughter, etc. would still be there, so that genuine negligence and stupidity would not have to go unpunished.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:38 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


And in Greece they just bulldoze them.
posted by jonesor at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2011


Shouldn't toll roads make enforcing speed limits a trivial matter?
...
Does anyone do this?


I'm almost certain this has been tried, at least based on something I hazily remember hearing once. [citation needed] Truckers would enter the expressway, barrel at top speed to the last truck stop before their exit, and have coffee and pie while the clock ticked until they'd burned enough time to get back on the road.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:11 AM on January 14, 2011


Does anyone do this?

French Autoroutes often do exactly this. Allegedly (I have no proof, nor time to find it - I should be gone already).

I'm not sure I agree that tolls are a "fact of modern life" though. In the UK I can only think of 4, and three of them were cases of private money coming in to do what the public sector really, really couldn't (the M25 QEII bridge, M4 severn bridge and the M6Toll).
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:16 AM on January 14, 2011


Or come to IL where you receive photos of cars that aren't yours but they're insisting that you owe the toll (how they can mistake a 1984 Honda car with a 1994 Chevy white work truck is beyond me). When you bring proof (plates, photos of car, license, registration) they balk and say you owe the money--$77k in fines.

Um...no.
posted by stormpooper at 11:36 AM on January 14, 2011


And in Greece they just bulldoze them.

Because, "fuck you, someone else should pay for it" has done so well for Greece to date.
posted by rodgerd at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess you could say this is an issue of…inequitable tolling.
YEEEAAAHHHHH
posted by anigbrowl at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2011


But if so, a $200+ toll per trip seems INSANE. There's no way that any business could justify paying those kinds of tolls.

I was recently reading about the Dublin Port tunnel. It was built to get trucks off the local roads. So the tolls are 10 euro each way for cars, and free for heavy trucks.

So sometimes, the high tolls are intentionally high.
posted by smackfu at 12:03 PM on January 14, 2011


And BTW, the really scary development is the tolls like they have in Melbourne for CityLink. Looks just like a normal highway. No toll booths at all... just transponder readers. If you don't have a transponder, you call up on your mobile phone and pay for a day pass. It's so easy to change a road to a toll road, I'm rather shocked it hasn't been done in the US.
posted by smackfu at 12:06 PM on January 14, 2011


His Cuban friends all toll him it would catch up with him one day. But did he listen?
posted by Twang at 12:18 AM on January 15, 2011


Why in the world would I want people afraid to use my toll roads? This is literally the worst idea.

No. Toll roads are the worst idea.
posted by sfenders at 4:36 AM on January 15, 2011


No. Taking a bath with a frightened skunk is the worst idea.
posted by No-sword at 5:35 AM on January 15, 2011


Taking a bath with a skittish but fully operational toaster is the worst idea.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:43 PM on January 15, 2011


The story is continuing to develop. The driver was originally said to have faked the army plates that allowed him to escape the tolls. Now a contract has been leaked purporting to show that he had arranged with the local People's Armed Police unit for the use of two army plates (as well as the unit's protection should his vehicle be detained or impounded), all for 1.2 million RMB. An image of the contract is here; The Beijing News has more.
posted by zhwj at 6:49 PM on January 15, 2011


I really, really, really, really, really, really, really hate tolls. They are exhibit A in the argument for using taxes to pay for infrastructure. Coming into Chicago from the west feels like being accosted periodically by a bum cadging quarters.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:43 PM on January 15, 2011


So wait, what are taxes for?
posted by unigolyn at 3:02 AM on January 16, 2011


I was recently reading about the Dublin Port tunnel. It was built to get trucks off the local roads. So the tolls are 10 euro each way for cars, and free for heavy trucks.

So sometimes, the high tolls are intentionally high.


Yes, true enough. $10 is a high toll to discourage cars from using the tunnel (I don't know anybody who would want to take that route any way), $200 falls into the "ridiculously excessive" range. Particularly since, if there was a non-toll option (as there is in Dublin), you would think this guy would have taken it.
posted by antifuse at 9:23 AM on January 17, 2011


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