Motorists who have been regularly cruising through toll plazas on the Atlantic City Expressway without paying might soon face suspended vehicle registrations.
The South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the expressway, is considering entering into a pilot program with the state Motor Vehicle Commission. If implemented, the authority would provide the names of about 90 egregious toll offenders to the commission.
Offenders would be notified by mail and given about a month to pay their tolls and fines or opt for a hearing. Otherwise, they would face losing their vehicle registrations, which would not be reinstated until the tolls and fines are paid, SJTA spokesman Kevin Rehmann said.
SJTA’s board was originally scheduled to vote on the matter Tuesday, but the item was removed from the agenda so changes could be made regarding language in a memorandum of understanding between the two agencies. The arrangement likely will be voted on at the authority’s next meeting on June 19. Previously, longtime toll violations were handled by a collection agency that attempted to recoup the money.
“We are going to do this, and it’s going to send a very strong message to the people who are averting paying the tolls,” SJTA Executive Director Bart Mueller said. “I’m hopeful we’ll have it settled by our next meeting.”
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, already implemented the pilot program last month. More than 130 repeat toll offenders, accounting for about $2.5 million in unpaid tolls and fees on the two roadways, were identified.
Rehmann said SJTA’s list will include about 90 individuals who owe at least $200 in tolls and fines, but could not immediately provide the total amount they owe. SJTA’s threshold for offenders turned over to the Motor Vehicle Commission is much lower than the Turnpike Authority, which identified violators who owe at least $1,000.
Longhorn Transport LLC of Newark was identified as the Turnpike Authority’s worst offender, with 2,652 violations and $116,281 owed, according to the Associated Press. Rehmann declined to release the names of expressway toll violators without an Open Public Records Act request.
Even if the program is implemented, it won’t catch all repeat toll violators. The Motor Vehicle Commission program will only apply to those with New Jersey registrations, leaving motorists who travel the expressway from Pennsylvania or other states free from the new penalty, Rehmann said.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan