With motorists failing to pay $117.66 million in tolls last year, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Moen seeks to make it easier for New Jersey to collect tolls owed by non-resident drivers. The legislation passed the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee on Thursday.
The measure, A-5799, authorizes New Jersey toll authorities to enter into reciprocity agreements with authorities from other states to collect tolls by enforcing penalties for nonpayment by motorists who travel between these states.
“In New Jersey, toll revenue is used to cover the operating expenses of our roads and bridges, ensuring they can meet the demands of millions of daily commuters,” said Assemblyman Moen. “Our transportation infrastructure cannot afford to keep losing millions of dollars because out-of-state drivers don’t pay their share of the tolls. Anyone who uses our roads should contribute to their upkeep or face penalties.”
Under a reciprocity agreement, written notice must be provided to a driver who resides in one of the participating states and owes tolls to any of the other states participating in the agreement. Drivers would be permitted to appeal the toll, if they believe it to be incorrect, without having to appear in person in the state where the violation allegedly occurred. As such, drivers can present evidence to another state’s toll authority via mail, telephone or electronic means, or they can appear before their local Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).
“Other states that have entered into similar agreements have been highly successful at reducing out-of-state toll debt,” continued Assemblyman Moen. “A reciprocity agreement is a commonsense approach to addressing this prevalent issue. Residents of each state will benefit from out-of-state drivers paying their tolls so that critical infrastructure maintenance receives full funding.”
If a driver has six or more toll violations or has a cumulative unpaid total of $500 or more in tolls/fees over three years, their vehicle registration may be suspended. The measure specifies that penalties for out-of-state toll violations cannot exceed $100 for the first violation or $600 for any subsequent violations.
The bill now heads to the Assembly for further consideration.