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Toll authorities looking to impound vehicles, ban drivers with unpaid tolls

Toll authorities are working to crack down on drivers not paying their tolls this fall. (Photo: CBS Austin)

Toll authorities are working to crack down on drivers not paying their tolls this fall.

TxDOT is planning to release the names of the top toll offenders in next week’s Commission meeting.

Those offenders could be on the list of what’s known as “habitual violators.” These are drivers with 100 unpaid tolls in a year that have already gotten several notifications in the mail.

All these violators can be banned from toll roads, then possibly have their vehicles impounded if they drive a toll road again.

It’s something TxDOT has done since SB 1792 passed in 2013. This fall the Regional Mobility Authority could do it as well.

“You’re stealing from the rest of the people of Central Texas when you don’t pay your toll,” RMA’s Steve Pustelnyk said.

Pustelnyk said in a few months their board could approve naming drivers habitual violators. Then they’d ban them from their toll roads on 290, 183 A and the MoPac express lanes.

“We’re going to start looking at having police officers out, banning you from the toll roads, if you’re caught on the toll road you could be stopped, ticketed and potentially have your car seized,” Pustelnyk said.

Pustelnyk said they’re already taking drivers with unpaid tolls to court. They’ve had about a thousand cases go to court.

“Our goal is not that, we want people to pay but we also want the people who are paying to know that we aren’t sitting just ignoring people who basically are creating the equivalent of shoplifting,” Pustelnyk said.

Pustelnyk said they’d also look to prevent drivers with a habitual violator status to not be able to register their car with the state.

“The best way to go about it is with vehicle registration holds,” Pustelnyk said.

Pustelnyk said they have about 16,000 drivers who could potentially become habitual violators. He said they have millions of transactions every year, so the vast majority of people do pay.

He also said about 30 percent of drivers with unpaid tolls are people with household incomes of more than $100,000.

“There may be an assumption that it’s people who can’t afford the tolls who are refusing to pay there are just some people out there that are refusing the tolls because they feel they shouldn’t have to pay,” Pustelnyk said.

Drivers like Brian Boswell are okay with banning drivers that don’t pay tolls. He said he wouldn’t want to see anybody’s car impounded, but he said not paying tolls is just taking advantage of the system.

“That’s part of the deal, if you’re going to be on the toll road you got to pay your tolls.”

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