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posted: 1/24/2013 4:35 PM

Tollway grants scofflaws more time, sticks to $20 fine

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  • You will have extra time to pay that painful $20 fine for skipping a toll payment.

    You will have extra time to pay that painful $20 fine for skipping a toll payment.
    Daily Herald File Photo


You'll still owe $20 for that toll violation, but at least there's an extra nine days to scrounge up the money to pay for it.

Tollway administrators want to give the gift of time to customers who receive notices for unpaid toll charges.

The current schedule involves: a first notice with 21 days to pay a $20 fine per violation and the option of a hearing; a second warning notice with 14 days to pay before an additional $50 fine kicks in and no hearing; and a third notice with 21 days to pay the $20 and $50 fines before incurring harsher penalties such as driver's license suspension.

The shift from 21 to 14 to 21 days was inconsistent and too brief for well-meaning drivers, Business Systems Chief Shauna Whitehead said at a tollway meeting Thursday.

As a result, the authority will switch to a simpler formula, offering 30 days to pay up with each notice, for a total of 90 days before more drastic measures are triggered.

The existing schedule had led to multiple complaints from tollway users, ranging from "'I didn't open it on time,' 'I didn't get it in time,' to 'I just didn't see it,'" Whitehead said. More leniency also lets customers take advantage of another paycheck cycle, she added.

The 30-day approach is more in line with other toll authorities in Miami, Dallas, Atlanta and Miami.

"This provides the flexibility we've been looking for," toll board Director Jeff Redick of Elmhurst said, adding it was important to keep monitoring toll evasion recovery.

In 2012, the agency lost $55.6 million in unpaid tolls. It recovered $30.3 million of those revenues including administrative costs for issuing fines.

The new rules, however, won't go into effect right away. The policy change first needs approval from a state legislative board and the tollway has to update its notices, Whitehead said.

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