Wednesday, December 31, 2008
NTTA responds to toll jumpers story
I received a few comments and emails implying that I was unfairly representing the process that has led to Collin County law enforcement dealing with over 12,000 "Failure to pay tolls" arrest warrants.
After I posted the article on toll jumpers in Collin County, I received a few comments and emails implying that I was unfairly representing the process that has led to Collin County law enforcement dealing with over 12,000 "Failure to pay tolls" arrest warrants.
So I asked the Public Information office at NTTA if they cared to respond. They did, and here is their response.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to respond to your article.
Most NTTA drivers, more than 95% of those who travel on North Texas toll roads to be exact, pay their tolls through a TollTag, ZipCash or the violation/invoice process.
However, the individuals to which you reference have driven on the toll roads and - for whatever reason - have not only failed to pay tolls, but have also failed to contact the NTTA to pay, and have not responded to several notices/invoices sent by us for payment.
At that point, the process for enforcing toll payment is handed over to the court of the local jurisdiction in which the violation occurred. This process is outlined in the Texas Transportation Code Section 366.178.
As such, the warrants you reference are for "failure to appear" and not the failure to pay as you mention in your story. The original citation is for failure to pay tolls, but the citations are issued from the Department of Public Safety if someone doesn't call, respond, come in, contact, or make arrangements with the Court. The NTTA has no authority to issue warrants for failure to pay a toll. Rather, these warrants are issued by the court because these individuals did not appear.
It is also important to note that these individuals who receive "failure to appear notices" have used the toll roads multiple times before any of this process starts and an invoice for payment is sent.
The NTTA and DPS use all means available to send toll invoices to the correct address, and there are multiple checks along the way to identify the vehicle's registered owner. Moreover, the NTTA has a court coordinator to assist patrons with any questions or concerns about their toll bills.
There is a simple message for drivers who chose not to pay: If you drive on the toll roads - pay the tolls like everyone else.
Thank you in advance,
Asst. Public Information Officer
North Texas Tollway Authority
Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast asked what I think is a very important question, "Licensed peace officers are some of the most expensive employees on every local government's payroll. Does it really make sense to use them as bill collectors for the toll booth operators?".
I know I would feel better sleeping at night knowing my local deputies and police officers were stopping/solving crimes instead of chasing down toll jumpers.
I have little sympathy for those who drive on the toll roads and refuse to pay. I just don't think that collecting tolls is the highest (or even proper) use of the limited resources in our criminal justice system.
It appears to me that the NTTA is saving money using the automated toll system by passing collection costs down to the police agencies and violators.
As to the "failure to appear" vs. "failure to pay", I appreciate the distiction. I used the term "failure to pay tolls" because that is the description used on the Sheriff's Department warrant page.
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