N.J. will get tough on toll cheats

Posted: March 30, 2012

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. - New Jersey highway officials are teaming up with the state Motor Vehicle Commission to clamp down on people who breeze through tolls without paying.

Under a pilot program launched Thursday, the Motor Vehicle Commission will threaten more than 100 repeat toll cheats with suspension of their registrations.

The 131 targeted companies and individuals account for about $2.5 million in unpaid tolls and fees.

Longhorn Transport LLC of Newark was identified as the worst offender, with 2,652 violations and $116,281 owed. A person who answered the phone at the trucking company Thursday said no one was available to comment.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has given the names, addresses, and license plate numbers of the cheats to the Motor Vehicle Commission, which has sent notices of possible suspension.

If violators make payment arrangements within 25 days, they will avoid suspension. If they don't, their registrations will be suspended until they pay the outstanding tolls and fees. Fines for driving with a suspended registration can be as high as $1,000.

"Since they've ignored every notice we've sent and every effort we've made to collect, now they'll have to face the consequences," Turnpike Authority chairman James Simpson said. "It's not fair to the honest drivers who pay what they owe to let these tolls go unpaid."

According to the authority, state law gives the Motor Vehicle Commission power to suspend or not renew registrations of repeat toll violators, though this is the first time such power has been used. The matter had been handled by a collection agency that tried to collect the debt before notifying consumer credit-reporting bureaus.

That system collected $1.9 million in unpaid tolls and fees last year, about four times as much as in 2010, the turnpike authority said.

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