The “Toll Payer Protection Act” (S.3587-C), co-sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. and approved by the State Senate and Assembly, establishes a Tolls by Mail program to improve the process for notifying vehicle owners about tolls and incurred fines while also ensuring fines are fair and motor vehicle registrations are not suspended due to an outstanding bill for a cashless toll fee.
“The cashless tolling system has been successful in easing traffic congestion and efficiency but it has also led to confusion and costly repercussions for many vehicle owners and constituents,” Addabbo said. “As with most new programs, we learn from experience what works and doesn’t work, so this bill will address problems with cashless tolling by making sure vehicle owners are billed within a reasonable time frame and they have access to information they need to avoid unnecessary fines, fees, and penalties,” Addabbo added.
New York State’s implementation of the cashless tolling E-ZPass system for bridges, tunnels, and roadways has helped to ease traffic congestion but it has also been problematic for drivers without E-ZPass devices. Too often these vehicle owners receive the Tolls by Mail notice after long delays, or not at all, resulting in unexplained or inconsistent late fees and fines. In some instances, motorists have had their car registration suspended, been stopped on the road, or had their car seized and have been left stranded due to alleged unpaid Tolls by Mail fees. The “Toll Payer Protection Act” will specifically apply to the Tolls by Mail program, not the payment of tolls using the electronic toll device.
Through this legislation, public authorities operating a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel facility would be required to create a public awareness campaign to promote the website and toll-free phone number for any person to obtain current information on any outstanding tolls or how to obtain an electronic EZ Pass device. The authority must mail toll bills and violations within 30 days of when they occur and include:
- Date, time, location, license plate number, and vehicle registration for each toll
- The total amount of the toll due
- Date the bill must be paid by
- Address for receipt of payment and methods of payment for the toll bill
- Procedure for contesting any toll or violation
- Information related to the failure to timely pay or respond to a toll bill
- Website address or hyperlink to access time-stamped photographs or footage of each toll incurred
- Any other information required by law or by the authority.
If a public authority fails to mail the toll bill to the vehicle owner within the required 30-day period and without the appropriate information, the owner will not be liable for payment of the tolls, or any penalty.
After passing both houses of the state legislature, the bill is currently awaiting final approval by the Governor to become law.