Video tolls are incurred when a vehicle passes through a toll booth but does not pay with cash or an E-ZPass.
Of the $102.2 million in unpaid tolls and penalties the authority estimates the state owes 576,000 non-Maryland drivers, the unit has only been able to collect about $1.3 million each year .
Of the. David Fraser-Hidalgo (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the bill as chair of a transportation subcommittee, said private debt collectors have more resources to pursue delinquent drivers than the State.
“We don’t have a lot of clout to bring them to the table to make them pay,” he said of the out-of-state drivers. “Once they figure that out, they just don’t pay.”
But the state collection agency cannot use its typical enforcement actions, such as suspension of vehicle registrations, on non-Maryland drivers.
Fraser-Hidalgo said the highest number of motorists not paying tolls come from Virginia, whose drivers owe $22.5 million in tolls and penalties. Pennsylvania is next. A person or business, he said, owed $202,000.
If the bill passes, the transit agency will contract with a debt collection company to collect unpaid tolls and fees. The company would pay the state the value of unpaid tolls plus a percentage of the civil penalties it collects.
The analysis found that the increase in revenue the state would derive from the change would likely be “significant”.
A joint letter of support for the bill last month from representatives of the Maryland Transportation Authority and the Maryland Department of Transportation said the authority sent nearly $55 million in unpaid video tolls and civil penalties to the state collection unit for the past two fiscal years. The letter states that only about $1.3 million was collected during this period, contradicting the budget and policy analysis, which indicated that about $1.3 million was collected each year. It was not immediately clear on Friday which of the two numbers was correct.
“Until this debt is collected, violators’ use of MDTA toll facilities is subsidized by the customers who pay their tolls, namely the people of Maryland,” the letter states.
The bill passed the House on Friday by a 130-5 vote. If passed by the Senate, it will come into force in June.
Of the. Alfred C. Carr Jr. (D-Montgomery), whose amendment to strike down the bill in December failed in the House, said he thinks the transportation authority could find other ways to recover funds – such as entering into reciprocal agreements with neighboring states. .
“Once they get into the habit of selling out-of-state toll debt and it becomes a source of revenue, I’m afraid it’s going to be hard to let go of the revenue,” Carr said.