If you don't have a gizmo, they scan your license plate and send you a $25 penalty if you aren't registered in their system somehow (with a 48-hour grace period in case you accidentally get stuck crossing the bridge, it happens..)
I believe you're mistaken about that. It sounds like you're describing bridges that have toll takers, but the driver blows right through (either the toll taker lane or the electronic lane without the gizmo).
According to the page you reference in your comment, if you drive across the Golden Gate Bridge without an electronic payment gizmo or an account, you get a bill in the mail for the toll alone, just as described in the original post. If you pay that bill, there is no penalty.
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