It happened today to one woman, who said: "Then this guy came and helped me - and it's amazing."
She really did run out. But Washington finds more and more drivers who just claim their tank is empty, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.
"It happens way more than it used to," said Washington, who works for the freeway service patrol.
When he asks them to start the car, they're busted.
"Sometimes, they smile and laugh and drive off," Washington said. "And the majority of the time they get upset that you don't provide them free gas."
Across the country, services that provide a gallon or so of free gas to get people safely off the highway are getting more calls than ever.
In Dallas, the courtesy patrol says calls from drivers out of gas have doubled from four to eight a day - with some drivers calling twice.
"They will stop on one stop, and then if they think we'll help em again, they'll go probably about a mile or two and they ask for another gallon, because a lot of them don't have any money," Janette Womak said.
"We're heading to a triple a call that is possibly out of gas," said Robert Innisfree, who drives a AAA tow truck in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Members out of gas can get up to four free gallons. His calls are up 16 percent over last year.
"We just had a guy the other day guy going to San Jose ran out of gas on the way down," Innisfree said. "Sure enough in the afternoon, we caught him … coming back."
Innisfree says most drivers aren't cheating - its just that filling up is so painful these days people wait until there's nothing in the tank but fumes.
It used to be that running out of gas was humiliating; now it's a chance to save some real money.