Reporting Bud Gillett
DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Drivers owning toll charges to the North Texas Tollway Authority queued up at its main office today to beat a deadline that ended a 90-day grace period.
70-people were already in line Friday morning when the doors opened at 7:00 am, and as many as 15,000 people may pass through the doors of the NTTA. It’s because the folks want to make sure there are no problems when they go to re-register their cards and trucks.
Roger Doan was one of them. How big was his bill? “$670,” he said, not including administration fees.
Doan told CBS 11 News he did pay-as-you go back when there were manned toll booths. Years ago. Rang up quite a bill since then. Why pay now? The additional fees. “Been waiting for it to get down to where it’s reasonable versus stupid. About $11,000.”
Besides fees, if charges aren’t paid drivers could find they’re blocked when they get annual registration stickers. It’s a new state law.
The NTTA can keep habitual violators from renewing registration in three North Texas counties.
Habitual violators are folks who’ve run up 100 or more unpaid tolls and have been sent violation notices.
Not many in line might be defined as “habitual,” but the NTTA also adds expensive handling fees to unpaid bills, and as Roger Doan showed us, those fees can run into thousands of dollars. But today is a “no fee day,” according to the NTTA’s Michael Rey. “They can pay their outstanding violations for just the value of the tolls. No fees added. And we’ve heard all along from people, ‘I don’t like those fees,’ and now there’s an opportunity to act on that.”
Everyone has a story about being here. Some, like Brenda Boutarroum, say notices may have been lost in the mail. “They just told me I owe $700.” When asked if she was going to pay it she said, “No, I’m on disability; how could I pay $700?”
Dan Langerman was not in the line because he was in arrears. He questioned getting $300/month drawn off his credit card account. “I do have two toll tags and one is my son’s, and apparently he’s slipping through those tolls quite often. So somebody’s going to be taking care of his own tolls from now on.”
Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant Counties are on board for the registration denials. Collin is not, and its drivers represent 21% of all users. The tax assessor/collector there tells me he has only enough staff to serve his residents, not collect bills for the NTTA.
The NTTA claims in extreme scofflaw cases they can ban cars from using the toll roads, stop and ticket drivers, or even impound their cars in extreme cases.
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