Ask a Cop: Can an unpaid toll stop me from registering my car?

Sgt. Chris Yagelski

Q: I recently tried to renew my car registration and was told there was a “hold” put on me for unpaid toll violations! I do not remember not paying a toll or any toll booths as they said it was in southern Indiana. And is this really true that they can stop me from registering my car?

A: Yes, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) may place a hold on vehicle registrations if you have unpaid toll violations from the Ohio River Bridge. This bridge is “all-electronic tolling,” which means no toll booths, no lines and no stopping. This also means “it can be confusing” if you are new to driving through this area not realizing you missed a toll. A company called RiverLink operates this system and holds are placed on registering cars until unpaid violations are settled. To pay the toll you must contact RiverLink directly at 855-748-5465 as the Bureau of Motor Vehicles cannot accept or collect payment for violations. Once the toll violation has been settled, the registration hold should only take a few minutes to be released and then you may renew your registration plates.

Q: Can someone be stopped by the police just for looking suspicious?

A: Any police officer can approach you and start to talk to you, but they must have a reason or articulable suspicion to go any further into questioning or detaining you.

Q: This may be a dumb question, but after work my pals and I hang out at a local bar after work at 4:30 p.m. It is usually dead during this time, so we asked the owner why he doesn’t run a “Happy Hour” and reduce the cost of drinks? He said that he would love to, but it is against the law. Is he telling us the truth or is he just being cheap?

A: Sorry, he may be cheap, but he is also right! In Indiana the “Happy Hour Law” states that a bar may not reduce the price of alcoholic beverages during a portion of the day and then sell the same drinks for a higher price the remainder of the day. So, no early bird specials, or half-priced post-work get-togethers. But they are allowed, for example, to sell beer half price on Mondays as long as it is the entire day and night on Monday. Throw this one at him!  

Q: I drive down U.S. 20 every day and there is something that really bothers me. There is a blue sign on the north side of the road at 20 and Franklin Street with a white question mark and nothing else. This drives me crazy as it makes no sense! What is it supposed to mean?

A: A blue sign with a question mark indicates there is an “Information Center” nearby where you can obtain information regarding tourist attractions or other information about the city. The La Porte County Convention & Visitors Bureau is located in the old Marquette Mall building at this location.

Q: In this day and age with the number of policemen getting hurt, why don’t you have two policeman per car and not just one?

A: The use of manpower is dependent on staff and coverage of the city. We get more coverage using single units, with backup units readily available. We do have two-person patrol cars when we have new officers still learning from seasoned officers.

Q: There was what I later found out to be a plainclothes policeman walking around my neighborhood and around some houses. He had a gun and badge on, but is there a quick way to tell if a badge is fake or not?

A: No, not really. Badges are made for a variety of reasons and uses. Police badges vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If someone approaches you, or comes to your door claiming to be a police officer, and you have some suspicion they might not be, simply tell them you are going to call their department before opening the door or answering any questions. This might be a slight annoyance to a real officer, but they should understand.

To ask a question, please contact me, Sgt. Chris Yagelski at 873-1461, Ext 1020, or email ASKACOP@emichigancity.com

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