NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s official; the top toll violators in Texas will now be banned from North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) roads.
Wednesday morning the NTTA board voted to effectively keep the top toll violators from using it’s toll roads.
Michael Rey, media relations manager for NTTA, said people with 100 or more skipped toll citations will be called for hearings and could be banned. While there is no physical way to keep people off of toll roads, troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) now have certain authority.
“And if somebody were banned or prohibited from entering the roadway and were later pulled over and found on it there’s a possibility their vehicle could be impounded… towed and impounded,” Rey said.
The violator would have to pay all of their overdue tolls in order to get their vehicle back. In some cases, like that of top violator Amber Young who the NTTA says owes more than $180,000, the outstanding tolls and fines would be more than the worth of the car.
The Tollway Authority claims it’s owed more than $17 million in unpaid transactions alone. Additional fees and charges push the amount into the hundreds of millions.
In the past the NTTA has sent invoices, filed criminal charges and issued warrants, all in an effort to collect money from the now 34,000 people whose names are on the Top Violators List. Since issuing the list only about 1,500 people have paid their debts.
Rey said payment plans have always been available for violators, but now the NTTA needs to take a firmer stand.
“We could certainly do a payment plan, but keep in mind I think being lenient and bending over backwards on some of these accounts has gotten us a reputation of, ‘Hey, I’ll get to it, when I get to it.’”
Former NTTA board chairman Victor Vandergriff pushed for the crackdown on violators and said Texas drivers agree with the agency and have little mercy for people who have often gone years without paying a toll.
“I don’t think anybody has sympathy for those scofflaws at that level,” he said. “They [other drivers] don’t like the fee necessarily, but they have no sympathy.”
The NTTA operates several roads in North Texas, including the Dallas North Tollway, the Sam Rayburn Tollway and the President George Bush Turnpike.