A Maryland lawmaker thinks the state is sticking motorists with too stiff a penalty for failing to pay toll bills before the 30-day deadline.
Maryland Del. Alfred C. Carr Jr. (D-Montgomery) introduced a bill in the General Assembly this week that would lower the late penalty from $50 per violation to $25. Carr said he’s heard from numerous constituents upset that they got stuck with the late fee because the initial bill got buried in their stack of mail or it was sent to the wrong address.
The Maryland Transportation Authority mails toll bills as part of its “video tolling,” which the state implemented at all of its eight toll facilities in 2011. If a vehicle passes through a toll booth without the driver paying cash or having an E-ZPass transponder, a camera photographs the vehicle and license plate, and the authority mails a bill to the vehicle’s registered owner.
Vehicle owners also might receive a “notice of toll due” if they didn’t have enough money in their E-ZPass account, the credit card on file had expired or the E-ZPass transponder wasn’t mounted properly, according to the authority’s website.
Kelly Melhem, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, said people have 30 days to pay the toll notice before the $50 penalty kicks in.
Carr called the $50 civil penalty “excessive” and “punitive,” saying it’s higher than the $40 penalty for a speed camera ticket.
“People are being charged $50, not because they’ve done something wrong, but because they’re late paying for a $2 toll,” Carr said.
Because the penalty takes effect for every toll that is unpaid or paid late, the fines can add up quickly, Carr said. He said one of his constituents drove on the Intercounty Connector five times, and the five bills from the state “got lost in the pile of mail.”
“He got a $250 bill for about $6 in tolls,” Carr said.
Melhem said the authority is reviewing Carr’s proposal. She said motorists also can contact the authority if they believe they received the toll bill by mistake.