In June, as part of its ongoing effort to further endear itself to the driving public, the North Texas Tollway Authority announced it would post the names of its top toll violators for all to see. Done. The agency simultaneously announced it would be filing civil lawsuits against some of those individuals. That hasn't happened. Not quite.
"The NTTA just referred approximately 6,000 cases to law firms for civil suits," agency spokesman Michael Rey said yesterday.
The lawsuits, as Rey explained, are part of a broader effort by the NTTA to crack down on chronic toll violators and "to ensure that NTTA has the resources to meet its financial obligations and to ensure fairness to the users who do pay their tolls in a timely fashion."
There's the list of shame and the lawsuits, and there is an effort to have the Legislature enact a law to block vehicle registration of any vehicle with outstanding tolls. But first, the agency is tackling a more pressing issue: keeping repeat offenders from continuing to use toll roads.
On Thursday, an NTTA committee will consider changing its policy to ban their vehicles from the road. Rey explained how it'll work in an email:
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The rules will apply only to repeat toll violators, namely, those people who have accumulated 100 or more unpaid tolls after invoicing, three notices of non-payment and typically contact from a collection agency over a period of months.
Hearings will be established to provide due process protections for Violators before NTTA issues an Order of Prohibition. These hearing will be conducted by independent hearing officers. Repeat toll violators will have an opportunity to do discovery, be represented by their own legal counsel, produce evidence, cross-examine NTTA witnesses and make closing arguments. They will have an opportunity to appeal an unfavorable finding to state court. Repeat toll violators will be entitled to these due process protections before any order of prohibition goes into effect against their vehicles.
The order of prohibition will have a limited scope:
·The order of prohibition will apply only to travel on NTTA toll highways. Repeat toll violators are free to drive on the many untolled roads in the region.
·The order of prohibition will apply only to vehicles owned by the repeat toll violator. They are free to travel on NTTA toll roads in other vehicles.
A vehicle driven on an NTTA Toll Highway in violation of an Order of Prohibition may be stopped and impounded by the Texas Department of Public Safety or other law enforcement authority. All applicable laws regarding vehicle impound and storage will apply.