After NTTA launched its top toll violator web page in July, many of our TollTag customers asked about our toll collection processes and enforcement tools. We gathered your questions from emails, phone calls, blogs and social media to compile a Q&A to answer your questions.
How effective is NTTA at collecting overdue tolls?
The NTTA successfully collects the vast majority of tolls owed. In fact, more than 92 percent of customers pay on time, every time with a TollTag or through ZipCash (pay by mail) at the higher toll rate. The top toll violators are a very small group of motorists – less than 0.5 percent of our customers – who ignore multiple requests for payment, burdening those who pay for their use of their roads.
Can the NTTA take stronger measures to catch people who don’t pay?
Escalating administrative fees followed by DPS citations and JP court are the methods the NTTA currently can use to hold motorists accountable for non-payment of tolls. Our ZipCash billing process is outlined at NTTA> Customer Information> Billing & Payment. However, we are seeking additional methods with local law enforcement and with the Texas legislature to collect tolls from the most serious violators who repeatedly choose to use the toll roads and refuse to pay. At this time the NTTA is considering a range of possible additional remedies, including blocking vehicle registrations and legally banning vehicles from the toll roads through administrative hearings.
Can the NTTA take toll violators to court?
In addition to the existing citation process which is heard in the Justice of the Peace courts in the corresponding jurisdiction, the NTTA has begun referring toll violation matters to collections litigation law firms. If those referrals do not result in payment, lawsuits will follow. In those lawsuits the NTTA will seek payment of the full amount of all unpaid tolls and all accumulated delinquent fees, plus court costs and attorney fees. The alternative payment options will be offered to violators only until their cases are referred for civil lawsuits.
Can the NTTA arrest the top toll violators?
The NTTA currently pursues approximately 15,000 toll violation cases annually in JP court. These citations have a maximum penalty of $250. The prosecutions are handled by local prosecutors. In addition, the NTTA has been communicating with the Department of Public Safety and local prosecutors concerning other possible criminal prosecutions against repeat toll violators that might lead to stiffer penalties. Those discussions are ongoing and may potentially lead to criminal prosecutions. Legislation may be indicated to provide a clearer basis for prosecuting toll violators.
Can the NTTA track these people down and impound their vehicles or place liens on their property?
The NTTA is currently authorized with two remedies to pursue repeat toll violators: (1) administrative fees and (2) DPS citations. Following passage by the 82nd Texas Legislature, the NTTA implemented SB 469, which revised the NTTA’s toll collection process and capped administrative fees per invoice at $200 beginning with the second notice of nonpayment.
The NTTA is seeking additional tools of enforcement in order to more effectively pursue the most egregious violators. The NTTA has identified a variety of toll collection and enforcement remedies for consideration, including blocking vehicle registration and legally banning violators from the toll roads.
Why doesn’t the NTTA block vehicle registration or driver license renewal?
The NTTA currently does not have this authority. However, the NTTA's 2013 legislative goals will seek solutions such as blocking vehicle registrations and banning vehicles through administrative hearings.
I’m not on the top toll violators list, but can I go to jail if I don’t pay my tolls?
At present, individuals do not go to jail for failure to pay a toll. If a warrant is issued and someone goes to jail, it’s because they failed to appear in JP court to address a citation for failure to pay a toll issued under Section 366.178 of the Texas Transportation Code. The NTTA plays no part in the actual warrant process. The NTTA does currently pursue approximately 15,000 toll violation cases annually in JP court. These citations have a maximum penalty of $250. The prosecutions are handled by local prosecutors. In addition, the NTTA has been communicating with the Department of Public Safety and local prosecutors concerning other possible criminal prosecutions against repeat toll violators that might lead to stiffer penalties. Those discussions are ongoing and may potentially lead to criminal prosecutions. Legislation may be indicated to provide a clearer basis for prosecuting toll violators.
Can the top toll violators really afford to pay these huge tolls and fees?
The violators made the choice to drive on the toll road, where there is an expectation of payment, instead of taking a state highway, service road or city street to their destinations. They also made the choice to ignore their financial obligation for doing so. Opening a TollTag account or paying ZipCash invoices on time would have saved a violator the cost of any additional fees and would have allowed them to pay as they go rather than accruing such a significant debt.
Why is the NTTA offering payment plans to toll violators?
The NTTA is offering two payment options as a flexible and practical way for the violators to settle their debts. Nevertheless, we will not accept any payment that doesn’t fully collect every past due toll at the highest ZipCash rate and a portion of the accumulated delinquent fees. The violators must pay what they owe for toll road use – it’s only fair to those who do pay.
What happens if the violators don’t keep up with the payments?
If the violator defaults on the payment agreement, the violator will be subject to further enforcement action, including a civil lawsuit for the full amount of unpaid tolls and fees plus possible court costs and attorney fees. They also may be subject to citation and prosecution in the JP courts. Both payment plans also require a violator to open a TollTag account for future tolls and keep the account in good standing with a positive balance on the account until the debt is paid.
Is the NTTA attempting to publicly embarrass people to collect overdue tolls?
No. The top toll violators list provides the public with a way to easily determine if they owe a significant debt to the NTTA and notifies them that they may be subject to collections lawsuits and other enforcement action by the NTTA. Toll violator names are removed from the list when payment is made in full or when a violator enters into a payment arrangement. The NTTA believes that the website listing provides a valuable form of notice for the public and furthers the NTTA's effort to keep the public informed of its toll violation enforcement efforts.