DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — In an attempt to collect on millions of dollars in unpaid tolls, the North Texas Tollway Authority is now using automatic license plate readers to catch habitual toll violators — or those who have more than 100 unpaid tolls.

The automatic readers will be mounted on the sides of toll roads and will dispatch DPS troopers when a violator is located.

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“Troopers will mingle in the traffic, reading license plates, and when somebody on the habitual violator list is pulled over, then the officer will double check that they still owe money, and they could be issued that citation,” said Michael Ray with the NTTA.

Ray says that if a trooper catches a habitual toll violator, that person can be issued a fine or even have their car impounded if the debt is large enough.

“Habitual violators have been banned from the roadway, they have been told not to be on the roadway because of these high tolls,” said Ray. “And if they’re found on there, they’ll be cited with a citation up to $500 initially. And if they’re found a second time, their car will be impounded until those fines are paid for.”

Terri Hall with Texans for Toll-Free Highways believes the punishment is excessive, calling it a “very extreme reaction”.

“They’re taking away someone’s ability to make a living, which is how they’re going to pay their toll bill,” said Hall. “So really, none of this makes sense. If you’re really the NTTA and you’re trying to get your money, it’s pretty counter-intuitive.”

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NTTA officials claim that close to 100,000 drivers have unpaid tolls due. And in their eyes, driving on the tollway is a privilege, not a right.

“Nobody forces you to be on a roadway,” said Ray, “but if you do use it, you’re expected to pay for it. I think that’s one of the basic tenants of fairness.”

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