HARWINTON, CT – The photo shown on the invoice from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission that arrived in Monday’s mail clearly displays the license plate on the motorcycle that’s approaching a toll booth. It says unmistakably “RIDE-CT.” The itemized bill requesting payment of $17.60 was for midday turnpike use on Aug. 20, 2023.
The problem I had upon reading the invoice was that during the morning of Aug. 20, I wasn’t anywhere near Pennsylvania. I was attending the Litchfield Hills Historical Auto Club Show at the Goshen Fairgrounds in northwest Connecticut, and my 1987 BMW R 80 RT that has the legal “RIDE-CT” marker on its tail was parked in my garage.
There’s ample evidence to prove my whereabouts in the form of a photo gallery and video on my other website, RIDE-CT – Classic Cars. Friend Robin Denny also has a date/time stamped video that shows me standing on the show ground working. This evidence is indisputable.
So who’s the counterfeit RIDE-CT rider? He’s riding what appears to be a Kawasaki sport bike. My current Connecticut registration shows the plate goes with the BMW. He’s wearing a German army-style helmet and dark riding jacket. I wear a Bell-branded lid in orange and black and, as friends will attest, I always wear a high-visibility yellow vest over my jacket when riding.
So many questions. Where did he get the fake plate? How long has he been skirting the law and potentially passing himself off as representing a regional website for motorcycle news?
Let me be emphatic: This guy has no connection whatsoever to RIDE-CT. He’s a thief, he’s a fake, he’s a cheat.
Wanting to clear up the matter as quickly as possible, I phoned customer service for the Pennsylvania Turnpike tolling system this morning. A pleasant and professional representative put me on hold as she talked with her supervisor, and returned to tell me to email a picture of my BMW and other info to her superior.
I did so and within an hour or so I received a concise response from Toll By Plate Supervisor Bakhcha Karim. After comparing the bike in the photo at the toll booth with the one of the BMW that I sent, a decision was made to void the invoice.
“Due to the fact that somebody is going through tolls with a fake plate like yours, it’s possible that you receive other invoices, whenever you get any, please contact m(e) directly by email and I will take care of it on our end,” Karim wrote.
Problem solved. Or is it?
There’s still somebody out riding with a fake RIDE-CT plate. What if he gets in an accident and injures or kills someone. Will the victim’s attorney come after me because the plate suggests I was the perp? What if he commits a crime. Will the cops run the plate, discover my name and show up on my doorstep with an arrest warrant? What if that happens on a Friday night and I can’t appear before a judge to straighten out the matter until Monday?
And might the guy with the counterfeit plate somehow damage my business and reputation?
There are too many questions and no instant answers.
A friend in New York had a parallel situation not so long ago. He received an invoice for an overdue toll for a vehicle that his insurance company had written off months before as a total loss after a falling tree crushed it. The person who bought the remains discovered what its plate had said and apparently managed to order a duplicate. My friend got the bill even though he no longer owned the car.
The Department of Motor Vehicles told him to cancel the plate and get a new one for his replacement vehicle. Would I be wise to dispense with the RIDE-CT branding on the BMW and just go with a generic classic plate? I’ve contacted the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles for guidance and am awaiting a response. Is the counterfeiting of plates commonplace?
Should anyone see the guy with the fake plate, please alert the police. Or maybe just grab the plate when he isn’t looking and destroy it.
(Photos of rider with fake plate courtesy of Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission)