A bill has been passed in the Maryland House of Delegates that would allow the state’s transportation agency to hire a collection agency to try and recover $102 million of unpaid tolls.
The bill has been introduced in the state Senate for approval. If passed by the Senate, it will be put in front of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature to become law. If passed, the law would go into effect in June.
In seeking to recover the unpaid tolls, the state would be using the collection agency to collect from drivers living somewhere other than Maryland, according to a published report. There are about 576,000 non-Maryland drivers who have violated one of the state’s tollways.
The state does not have the same powers over out-of-state violators as it does for individuals from Maryland who don’t pay their tolls. If a toll violator is from Maryland, that individual’s car registration could be suspended, for example.
“We don’t have a lot of leverage to bring [out-of-state violators] to the table to make them pay,” said David Fraser-Hidalgo, who sponsored the bill as chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee’s Motor Vehicle and Transportation subcommittee. “Once they’ve got that figured out, they just don’t pay.”
Private debt collectors would be able to file lawsuits against toll violators.
About $55 million of unpaid toll violations have been sent to the state’s collection unit during the past two years, but only $1.3 million has been recovered. An analysis of switching to a private collection agency revealed that a “significant” amount of revenue would be recovered.