CTRMA to spend $275,000 to catch habitual toll violators driving on its roadways

Habitual toll violators can expect to face penalties starting in September and October for not paying tolls on area roads, such as Toll 290.

Habitual toll violators can expect to face penalties starting in September and October for not paying tolls on area roads, such as Toll 290.

A Central Texas tolling authority plans to spend $275,000 to use law enforcement in Travis and Williamson counties to detect habitual toll violators driving on its facilities, which include Toll 183A and Toll 290.

Under state law, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is permitted to take steps toward getting habitual violators—those with more than 100 unpaid tolls within a 12-month period—to pay their balance. These measures include banning these people from driving on the agency’s facilities, publishing their names online and putting a hold on their vehicle registration renewals.

In June, the Mobility Authority board approved purchasing license plate readers and will install those in August. At the July 24 meeting, the board approved spending $275,000 on one-year agreements with law enforcement in Travis and Williamson counties.

Off-duty constables in the two counties will be alerted when the license plate reader detects a plate on the list of vehicles banned from the Mobility Authority’s toll facilities. Officers will have the discretion to issue the driver a citation or warning for violating the ban of driving on toll roads or impound the vehicle, said Tracie Brown, director of toll operations for the Mobility Authority.

“[The constables] have said impounding would only come if they’re repeat offenders, … meaning they have been pulled over several times for violating the prohibition order,” she said.

Brown has previously said about 15,000 people fall under the habitual toll violator status, with the two top offenders residing in Leander and each owing about $5,500 in unpaid tolls and fees as of September when the board approved the habitual toll violator program.

Enforcement of the ban will begin by October, and the agency will also publish names of the habitual toll violators on its website. The Mobility Authority is limited by law to only publishing the violator’s name, city, county, number of unpaid tolls and total balance.

Brown said the goal is to get the person to pay his or her balance—they can also set up a payment plan—and use a toll tag.

The agency issued predetermination notices of nonpayment July 23 to habitual violators and will issue a second determination notice in August. The person has 30 days after the first notice to contact the Mobility Authority to pay the toll balance or set up a payment plan. After the second notice, the person has 30 days to request an appeal.

If drivers do not take action, the Mobility Authority board will approve a list of vehicles banned from its facilities.
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By Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.


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