Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cheating Spouse Tripped Up by Toll Tag

People who feel that they might be the victims of a cheating spouse have plenty of tools at their disposal to find out the truth, be they old-school (spy supplies, actual private detectives, credit card bills) or new-school (GPS records, cell phone records, surveillance cameras). But I bet that a philandering spouse would never expect to have been caught in the act by electronic toll records:
Adulterers, beware: Your cheatin' heart might be exposed by E-ZPass.
E-ZPass and other electronic toll collection systems are emerging as a powerful means of proving infidelity. That's because when your spouse doesn't know where you've been, E-ZPass does.

"E-ZPass is an E-ZPass to go directly to divorce court, because it's an easy way to show you took the off-ramp to adultery," said Jacalyn Barnett, a New York divorce lawyer who has used E-ZPass records a few times.

Lynne Gold-Bikin, a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer, said E-ZPass helped prove a client's husband was being unfaithful: "He claimed he was in a business meeting in Pennsylvania. And I had records to show he went to New Jersey that night."

Generally mounted inside a vehicle's windshield behind the rearview mirror, E-ZPass devices communicate with antennas at toll plazas, automatically deducting money from the motorist's prepaid account.

Of the 12 states in the Northeast and Midwest that are part of the E-ZPass system, agencies in seven states provide electronic toll information in response to court orders in criminal and civil cases, including divorces, according to an Associated Press survey.
The obvious way to avoid get caught cheating is simply to not cheat in the first place, but, as the article makes obvious, it's best to cover one's tracks carefully when doing so. In fact--despite some justifiable concerns about privacy, common sense is the best way to go:
Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia turned Libertarian and privacy rights advocate, said people who want to protect their privacy shouldn't use electronic toll systems.

"People are foolish to buy into these systems without thinking, just because they want to save 20 seconds of time going through a toll booth," he said.
But for those of us with nothing to hide, they sure area convenience, aren't they?

(It's important to point out that I "misspelled" the term "toll tag" on purpose; "TollTag" as all one word is the trademark of our local North Texas Tollway Authority, which was not profiled in the article, and their policy in this area is unknown to me. Even though it's tempting around here to use that term generically, like Thermos, Kleenex or Dumpster, I didn't want anyone from the NTTA reading this and getting the wrong idea. OK, there--the legal stuff is out of the way. 5.7% APR, all products not available in all areas, your mileage may vary.)

1-800-YOU-BLEW-MY-COVER: In a related story, a man here in Texas is suing 1-800-FLOWERS for inadvertently revealing an affair to the man's wife. He bought flowers through the service for his girlfriend and, citing the company's own policy, asked them to keep the purchase private, but the company sent a thank-you card--with a record of the name of the recipient and the "I love you" message to her--to the man's home, where the wife read it, turning what had been an amicable divorce between the two into something much less so.

A possible movie sequel for next summer: Snakes and Crocs on a Plane (and by "crocs," they don't mean the shoes).

The shape of even more jazz to come: Ft. Worth native Ornette Coleman--still going strong at age 77--gets a front-page profile in the GuideLive section of today's DMN. Among other things, the article notes that he's doing much better since he collapsed from heat exhaustion at the Bonnaroo Festival in June. There's video and audio of Ornette here.


Anonymous said...

The purchase records of supermarket "loyalty" cards are another data source being mined in legal proceedings. Folks in divorce proceedings who bought condoms or pregnancy tests on a "loyalty" card without the other spouse's knowledge, or people in child custody cases who bought cigarettes or liquor or lots of fatty foods on their "loyalty" cards wind up with lots of 'splainin' to do in front of the judge regarding their fitness for custody. had a link to a story some time back of a Seattle-area firefighter who was convicted of arson primarily based on the evidence that he used a "loyalty" card to but some firestarting material similar to what was used to burn down his house shortly after. Just before he was to be sent to jail, someone else stepped forward to claim responsibility for the fire and the innocent firefighter was freed.

But hey, "loyalty" cards are all about "convenience" and "great price savings," right?



Anonymous said...

Found a link to the story. Safeway was the chain in question.

Firefighter cleared on arson charge