Florida's Turnpike: What You Need to Know

By: Julie Landry Laviolette


Driving through the Sunshine State? Odds are, if you’re heading up or down or even across the central spine of the state, you’ll find yourself on Florida’s Turnpike.

Here’s what you need to know about Florida’s Turnpike:

What is Florida’s Turnpike?

It is 461 miles of toll roads that make traveling more efficient because of fewer exits and less traffic. It is operated by Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, part of the Florida Department of Transportation. See a map here.

Why do I have to pay a toll?

The Turnpike is largely paid for by the drivers who use it. Toll revenue goes to operate, maintain and expand the Turnpike system.

When was the Turnpike built?

The first section of Florida's Turnpike opened in 1957.

Why is it called the Ronald Reagan Turnpike?

The main line, from Miami to Wildwood, north of Orlando, was designated the Ronald Reagan Turnpike in 1998 by the Florida Legislature to honor the 40th president of the United States.

How much are tolls?

They depend on the section of the Turnpike you’re on and how far you're going, but are priced by mile and by the number of vehicle axles. See a toll calculator here.

How do I pay tolls? Do I need to have cash?

You can pay by cash or by SunPass, the state’s prepaid toll program, which discounts tolls about 25 percent and saves time at toll booths. Where all-electronic tolling is in effect, you can also pay by Toll-By-Plate, where a camera takes a picture of your license plate, and you are mailed a bill for tolls plus a $2.50 service charge.

How do toll booths work?

Turnpike signs will let you know what kind of toll booth is coming up, and the toll amount. At cash booths, you pay the toll and can get change. At unmanned cash booths, you will need exact change in coin. If you have a SunPass, it is scanned by an electronic reader and tolls are deducted from your prepaid account.

The Miami section of the Turnpike no longer accepts cash. Drivers use SunPass or Toll-By-Plate, which takes a picture of your license plate and mails you a bill for tolls and a $2.50 administrative fee per monthly invoice.

What is SunPass?

SunPass is the state’s prepaid toll program. To use it, you buy a SunPass device called a “transponder” that attaches to the inside of your windshield. When you drive through a SunPass toll plaza, the toll is deducted from your prepaid account.

What is a SunPass transponder and how much is it?

There are two kinds of SunPass transponders. The SunPass Portable is $19.99 plus tax and attaches to your windshield with suction cups. It is removable and can be used on any vehicle with a windshield, including motorcycles. The SunPass Mini Sticker is $4.99 plus tax, and permanently attaches to windshields. It cannot be used on motorcycles. Both require a $10 minimum balance to activate.

How does SunPass work?

When you drive through a SunPass toll lane, the SunPass transponder transmits a radio signal to sensors in the toll plaza and the toll amount is deducted from your prepaid account. Find more info here.

Where can I buy a SunPass?

Online, by mail or fax, or at nearly 2,000 retail outlets in Florida, including Publix Super Markets, CVS Pharmacies, Walgreen's, Amscot Financial branches and AAA South offices. Transponders are also sold at Turnpike service plazas, Turnpike gas stations and SunPass Service Centers. The SunPass Mini Sticker is sold at 24-hour vending machines at three Welcome Centers and one rest area. See locations here.  

How do I activate a SunPass?

To activate your SunPass, you need to put a minimum of $10 in your prepaid account. You can activate online, at 1-888-TOLL-FLA (1-888-865-5352), at a SunPass Payment Center or a SunPass Service Center. You can use your activated SunPass immediately in "SunPass Only," "E-Pass Only" and "Leeway Only" lanes. You can use your SunPass after 6 a.m. the morning after activation in other lanes.

Should visitors get a SunPass?

You are not obligated to buy a SunPass, but it will save you money and time. You will save about 25 percent on tolls, and you won’t have to stop at cash lanes.

Can I use other state transponders in Florida?

Georgia's Peach Pass and North Carolina's NC Quick Pass are accepted. Motorists must use the "SunPass Only" or "EPass Only" or "Leeway Only" toll lanes for these transponders to work.

Where does the SunPass work?

SunPass can be used on all Florida toll roads and nearly all bridges. If you sign up for Easy Pay and link a credit or debit card to your SunPass, you can use it to pay parking fees at the Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Orlando and Palm Beach airports.

What if I go through a SunPass lane by mistake?

A picture of your license plate will be taken, and you will receive a notice about the unpaid toll. Read more here.

What is Toll-By-Plate? How does it work?

Toll-By-Plate is a tolling system that works by taking a picture of a vehicle’s license plate as it passes under a tolling station. The vehicle’s owner is invoiced for tolls every 30 days, plus a $2.50 administrative charge. It is available on the Turnpike system roads where all-electronic tolling is in effect — Florida's Turnpike in Miami, The Sawgrass Expressway west of Fort Lauderdale and the Veterans Expressway in Tampa.

To open a prepaid Toll-By-Plate account, visit www.tollbyplate.com or call 1-888-TAG-TOLL (888-824-8655). Or just drive and you will receive an invoice in the mail.

Are other Turnpike toll booths converting to all-electronic/no cash?

Yes. Hollywood Boulevard (Exit 49) and Griffin Road (Exit 53) in Broward County are scheduled to convert in late 2015.

For updates, check the current projects web page.

How do I pay tolls if I rent a car?

Most major rental car companies can include tolls in your rental agreement. Some rental cars have a SunPass. If your car does not, Turnpike cameras take a photo of the rental car's license plate as it goes through a toll lane and bills the rental company. Your credit card is charged or you are billed for tolls, plus any service fees. Ask your rental car company for fees and terms.

What if I have a SunPass and rent a car?

You can use your own SunPass transponder in a rental car. Just let SunPass know the rental car’s license number, and remember to remove the transponder when you return the vehicle.

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kathlee watters
kathlee watters July 12, 2015 4:01 PM
Every time I try to calculate tolls the page jumps around and I cannot find out out total cost. I already sent you an email and no one answered. I'm going from Clearwater to Marathon FL, then key west, then back up to homestead and then back to clearwater. I would like to know ahead of time how much I should save for tolls. cash wize.
Hi Kathlee,
Thanks for reaching out.
I wasnât sure what you meant about the page jumping around, so I did some digging. I think you were on the tolls calculation page for SunPass, the one with the map where you start by selecting the region. I actually tried to calculate the tolls for you but I couldnât work it out either. (BTW, these folks are the ones you probably wrote, not VISIT FLORIDA.)
I have a couple of possible solutions. I found a different calculator that you just enter your start and end points on the Turnpike from dropdown menus, and it just gives you the amount. Check it out: https://turnpikeinfo.com/toll-calculator.php?road_name=floridas-turnpike&state=florida
This one worked much better, plus it gives info like if you can only use Sun Pass or if cash is okay. The same site has a map of Florida and the exits, so you can clearly see where you have to pay tolls on the Turnpike. Iâm not sure where youâre cutting across the state from Clearwater to the Atlantic Coastâmaybe to Yeehaw Junctionâbut you can see you wonât be on the Turnpike until you go east a long ways. Check it out: https://turnpikeinfo.com/maps-and-exits.php?road_name=floridas-turnpike&state=florida
Youâll also notice that many of the places youâre going arenât on toll roads. For instance, the Florida KeysâMarathon, Key West, etcâarenât on a toll road, so you donât need to worry about that part of the trip.
Iâve driven from Clearwater down to the Keys many times and I think the Turnpike is your only toll roadâbut Iâm not positive, particularly depending on the way you go. I suggest contact the folks at the SunPass, maybe by phone if youâve tried email, and get someone to look it up for you. Hereâs contact info:
âSunPass Call Center
In the U.S. and Canada:
1-888-TOLL FLA
FAX: 1-888-265-1725 (except Canada)
FAX: 1-561-470-6699

Monday to Friday, 7:00AM - 7:00PM
Saturday, 8:30AM - 5:00PM

If you need to contact the SunPass Call Center, please note Mondays are extremely busy. If your call is not of an urgent nature, you may want to call Tuesday through Friday.
Thank you for your cooperation.â
The best solution of all might be to purchase a mini Sun Pass so you donât need to worry about any of this, plus you wouldnât have to wait at the booths. Theyâre only $4.99. Check it out: https://www.sunpass.com/selectAcceptAgreementPurchaseTransponder.action
Iâm sending you a personal email too to make sure you get this.
Good luck and sorry for your trouble.
I hope I did not get inaccurate info. I drove a rental car on the Florida Turnpike from just south of Ocala to Orlqndo and then east on 408. We do work for Duke Energy and I was told that without a sun pass account to just go through they're paid lanes and the rental car company would place the charge along with a service fee on my credit card without any fine. I did this but now am concerned. Is this accurate?
Hi John,
Thanks for reaching out.
Youâre okay. Read what Sun Pass says about the rental car program here: https://www.sunpass.com/rentalcar
BEWARE, just made a trip into Destin Fl.................... We paid our toll going over the MIDWAY BRIDGE and we PAID our toll going back over the bridge 4 days later............ Now we have received SUNPASS mail showing our car after we left the toll booth and they say we did not pay....................... Not only do we have to pay the toll again, plus a surcharge if we don't pay we will receive more charges............... FUNNY U can get our photo of our car on the bridge but you can't get it in the TOLL BOOTH PAYING.....Wonder how much extra money you get for sending these out to people who come and spend money in FL......................................... What you are doing SUNPASS is THEFT! It might be a few dollars but none the same you are stealing from people who come to your state to spend there hard earned money...... The only way you can fight this is if you have a receipt......................... Sorry we didn't ask for one! SO BE WARE big BROTHER IS watching you... They just don't watch you while you are paying your toll............................. Seen other complaints by other people who have been stolen from you!
Gee, how can I drive to a get a SunPass without a Sun Pass. No Florida for me. You scum tax collectors.