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New Jersey cracks down on toll cheats

Cars drive up to the Raritan toll plaza northbound on the Garden State Parkway.
March 30, 2012 5:55:58 AM PDT
Highway officials in New Jersey are teaming with the state's motor vehicle commission to clamp down on people who breeze through tolls without paying.

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

The 131 companies and individuals targeted by the new program have accounted 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 toll cheats to the Motor Vehicle Commission, which has sent notices of possible suspension.

If the violators make payment arrangements within 25 days, they will avoid the suspension. If they don't, their registrations will be suspended until they pay their 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 Turnpike authority, state law gives the Motor Vehicle Commission the power to suspend or fail to renew registrations of repeat toll violators, though this is the first time that authority has been used. Previously, the matter was handled by a collection agency that attempted to collect the debt before notifying consumer credit reporting bureaus.

That system collected $1.9 million in unpaid tolls and fees last year, nearly four times as much as in 2010 due to increased efforts, the Turnpike authority said.

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