Travel Tip: Florida Toll Roads & SunPass


What is SunPass? If you are planning a trip to Florida this winter, you need to get to know SunPass. Driving on your vacation? SunPass is going to save you money and make your life easier.

Travel enough and you are going to encounter toll roads at some point along your route. Chicago and the New York/New Jersey metroplex are infamous for their toll plaza collection stations. Florida has a few toll roads in the larger cities like Orlando, Tampa, and many of the intercoastal waterway bridges. But, venture into Miami and the toll that city takes will rival The Windy City and The Big Apple.

Florida has no State income tax. However, the Tax Man does hang out on roadways looking to make up for any revenue shortfalls. Everyone pays. The good news? You don’t have to drive through a toll plaza, dump your loose change in a plastic bucket contraption, or hand over bills to a bored booth collector. The bad news? You can’t make the choice to drive through a booth and pay by cash. It’s all electronic.

Doing away with the toll booths does speed up traffic. It cuts down on costs. All those bored booth attendants can now spend their time fishing, laying in the sun, or being greeters at WalMart. However, to work at WalMart they have to be retrained to smile and say thank you.

In place of the traffic backups at toll plazas, Florida has gone to electronic sensors that read transponders mounted in your vehicle. The process is painless, as you drive under toll collection points the transponder number is recorded. A photo of your vehicle license plate is snapped. You are then billed for the toll. This is where SunPass comes in.

You can pay the toll by direct billing to your license plate. The Florida DMV will send you a statement in the mail. But, installing a SunPass transponder in your vehicle allows the DMV to bill your SunPass Account. You manage the account online and load money into your SunPass fund via credit or debit card.

Where to Get a SunPass Transponder

The advantage of SunPass is the cost of the toll is significantly cheaper than the bill to license option. Half price in some instances. Grocery stores like Publix, drug stores such as CVS, and Walgreens sell SunPass transponders. Five dollars will get you one-time use pass that mounts to your windshield and goes dead when peeled off. Perfect for rental car use. A permanent transponder can be purchased for $20 and swapped from vehicle to vehicle.

During a recent trip to Miami, I rented a car for 6 days. The rental agency offered an unlimited toll pass for $12 per day. My math is pretty good, that’s $72 for the time I would have the car. A stop at Publix, a $5 purchase, a call to the toll-free number on the package and a $15 deposit saved me $52. Daily trips on the Florida Turnpike and I still had $5 in my account at the end of the week.

Like I said quick, easy, and a money saver. Visit the SunPass website for additional details. Enjoy your time in the sun.