The Texas Department of Transportation will implement a permanent pay-by-mail option for drivers without a TxTag sticker in their vehicles.

The department also will waive fees for veterans who are disabled or received the Purple Heart or Congressional Medal of Honor.

TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross said the pay-by-mail option initially was a pilot program. TxDOT decided to eliminate the cash payment option for drivers using the Central Texas Turnpike System, and Cross said the department needed to offer a way for non-TxTag vehicles to pay tolls.

The toll system will read the license plates via video and send a statement to drivers without a TxTag in the mail after 16 days. TxDOT spokeswoman Kelli Reyna said a $1.15 service charge will be included on each statement to handle the processing and postage for the tolls. Drivers have 60 days to pay until it is a violation, and the fine is $5.15 per statement, Reyna said.

The turnpike system includes SH 45 North, Toll 1, Toll 130 and SH 45 Southeast.

The Texas Transportation Commission gave TxDOT approval Aug. 30 to implement the payment option Jan. 1, along with waiving tolls for select veterans, which also goes into effect Jan. 1.

Reyna said to qualify for the waived fees, veterans will need to have a specialty plate issued by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for being a disabled veteran or recipient of the Purple Heart or Congressional Medal of Honor. In Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, 7,360 of those specialty plates have been issued.

If a qualified veteran does not have a specialty plate, Reyna said the person will need to contact the DMV.

The Texas Legislature approved House Bill 3139 in 2009 that grants toll authorities the ability to develop a program.