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Still Chasing Scofflaws? Focus on Bigger Penalties

By David Raines

September 17, 2018


With more and more agencies converting to All Electronic Tolling (AET) and new agencies electing to start as an AET program, these organizations are using more aggressive tools to recoup outstanding funds.

In the past, tolling authorities used several methods to combat the flagrant and habitual violators or “scofflaws,” such as the issuance of misdemeanor citations, law enforcement using PDAs to perform traffic stops, or publishing a list of the highest habitual violators (“Super Scofflaws”).

While these proven tactics are still in place, new techniques are being implemented.


Suspending Vehicle Registrations

One such technique is the issuance of a state vehicle registration suspension, block or hold for those vehicles registered by drivers who have several violations and/or owe a large amount of money.

While the dollar and violation amounts vary from state to state and authority to authority, one thing is common: if a block or hold is issued, drivers are not allowed to renew their vehicle registration until the tolls and associated fees are paid to the tolling authority. With a suspended registration, the driver runs the risk of a more serious traffic violation.

Some of the states that have implemented this strategy include:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington


Tougher Penalties for Faster Results

Tolling agencies are adding more teeth to recoup tolls and fees from drivers that incur violations and do not pay the associated notices. Once the dollar amount or number of violations exceeds mandated thresholds, then vehicle registrations and/or criminal charges may be imposed. Hopefully, this will have one or two effects:

  • Drivers will register and fund a pre-paid toll account, or
  • Drivers will pay their outstanding toll bills in a timely manner.

There are still some issues to work through. One problem agencies face is that not all scofflaws are local. If the agency doesn’t have agreements beyond its state’s borders, they may not be able to issue vehicle registration holds for out-of-state vehicles.

But with more and more states opting into this strategy for scofflaws, reciprocal, interstate programs could be put in place.


Case Study: Pennsylvania Turnpike

Pennsylvania law was updated to suspend drivers’ vehicle registrations if they owe more than $500 in violations or have more than five violations. According to one audit, the Pennsylvania Turnpike waves more than $20 million to toll scofflaws each year.

In addition to registration suspensions, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and local district attorneys recently have filed felony criminal charges to vehicle owners who owe more than $2,000 in unpaid tolls.

Learn more about our tolls and managed lanes services.

Topics: Insights, Transportation, Tolls & Managed Lanes, Transportation Infrastructure

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About the Author

David has more than 18 years of experience in program management, project management, systems analysis, and electronic payment systems for all facets of tolling, managed lanes, transit, parking, and border crossings. He has provided a variety of services for both tolling and transportation clients in areas such as Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.

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