Unpaid tolls still hanging over your head?
NTTA offers other chances to pay
Late last summer, local news stories highlighted the rush of tollway "patrons" who decided at the 11th hour, to take advantage of the grace period offered by the North Texas Tollway Authority to drivers who had accumulated hundreds, even thousands of dollars in unpaid tolls, fees and administrative penalties. In all, about 49,200 delinquent toll road users chose to settle-up at reduced rates made available by the passage of SB1792 during the 2013 legislative session.
However, not much attention has been paid to the remaining thousands of motorists who used NTTA facilities, but for various reasons, have failed to respond to the automated invoice system that's been in place since the phase-out of toll booths was completed in 2011.
Since then, NTTA has revamped its unpaid toll collection policy. While there is no new grace period program underway, those who still owe for unpaid trips on NTTA roads are encouraged to contact the authority to make payment arrangements.
I stand behind NTTA's efforts to reel-in millions in unpaid revenue. I equally urge delinquent users to do the right thing by paying for services used. However, NTTA was also partly to blame for collection efforts that turned nominal actual tolls due into hundreds in unpaid fees and penalties. Quite frankly, some simply could not afford to pay the enhanced and exorbitant sums they'd accumulated.
NTTA revised its collections process by doing away with the $6.60 per violation charge it had levied for each unpaid toll. Although substantially reduced, an escalating scale of penalties is still tacked on to each unsuccessful collection attempt. At that rate, it's easy to see how 100 unpaid trips, the threshold for what NTTA and legislators characterize as habitual violators, could - under the old collections system - mushroom into a bill that now cost thousands.
Under the new collections system, a monthly bill is sent to delinquent drivers for which they have 30 days to pay. If unpaid past that point, a first Notice of Nonpayment invoice is sent that carries a flat $10 administrative fee. Users have 30 days to pay before a 2nd Notice of Nonpayment is issued. With the 2nd notice, which is issued after 60 days, an additional $25 fee for non-payment is added to the initial $10 administrative fee. A 3rd Notice of Nonpayment at the 90 day mark would generate outside collection efforts along with an additional $29 fee that goes to the 3rd party bill collectors. Of course timely payment would make this litany unnecessary, but sometimes our busy lives can cause a few things to fall between the cracks.
Again, if you have unpaid tolls, avoiding notices will not make them disappear. Thousands of drivers who had fewer than 100 violations chose to take advantage of the grace period to settle their debts. However, most of the 70,000 identified by NTTA as habitual violators have yet to come forward.
Do yourself a favor by getting in touch with NTTA as soon as possible to arrange payment plans that can better fit into your budget. Heed the warning, because there are more consequences for non-payment. Dallas was one of the first counties to reach agreement on a provision of SB1792 that would block auto registration. Other possible sanctions include Class C citations and impoundment.
And drivers, let's be honest. It is a toll road and you enter with full knowledge of the costs involved. NTTA's sole revenue stream is toll collection. If you know you can't, or refuse to pay, please steer your car to another roadway. To get started resolving your unpaid tolls, NTTA can be contacted at 972-818-6882 or at www.ntta.org/ .
For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123.