BALTIMORE, MD (Oct. 1, 2007) - Last week, in its continuing effort to crack down on the number of chronic toll violators at Maryland's seven toll facilities, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) conducted its third exercise targeting drivers who repeatedly refuse to pay required tolls and fees.
"These repeat offenders owe the Authority more than $3.5 million," said Authority Executive Secretary Ronald L. Freeland, "These exercises enhance the Authority's overall toll violation enforcement efforts and make offenders aware that there are 'no free rides' in Maryland."
Earlier this year, MDTA Police formed an Electronic Toll Enforcement Unit to address chronic toll violators -- registered vehicle owners who have more than three Maryland toll violations and have accrued more than $1,000 in violation tolls and administration fees. The enforcement team uses the new License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology, which enhances the existing violations system by utilizing character recognition software to detect license plates of chronic toll violators. LPR technology also allows the user to access criminal information from the National Crime Information Center.
"Our core mission is to uphold Maryland's motor-vehicle and criminal laws," said MDTA Police Chief Marcus L. Brown. "This technology helps us identify the most serious toll offenders and keep them from continuing this activity. We have already utilized the LPR at six of Maryland's facilities and will conduct periodic enforcement exercises throughout the State."
At last week's two-hour exercise, which took place at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway toll plaza (I-95), MDTA's enforcement team and Maryland State Police worked together to improve the overall toll violation enforcement efforts while deterring potential toll violators with their police presence. Officers stationed at the toll plaza also stopped motorists for observed toll violations.
This summer, toll violation exercises were held at the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695) and Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-895). In all three exercises combined, the LPR read 4,832 license plates and yielded one alert for suspended registration. On average, the LPR reads 2,393 registrations a day and produces a hit every three days. In addition, police issued 24 citations, 34 warnings and placed six trucks out of service.
The Authority has been cracking down on chronic violators since 2005. Efforts have included identifying commercial-vehicle drivers obscuring, falsifying or altering registration plates; requesting Maryland MVA suspend more than 1,000 vehicle registrations; and collecting more than $345,000 in outstanding tolls and associated fees through the state of Maryland Central Collections Unit (CCU).
Both MVA and CCU charge fees over and above the tolls and administrative fees owed to the Authority.
E-ZPass Maryland customers can avoid the potential for violations by updating their E-ZPass account information, including current address, credit card and vehicle information. Motorists should always correctly secure their transponders to their vehicles' windshields to avoid misreads in the lanes. Customers who continue to violate may have their E-ZPass Maryland privileges revoked until all associated fees are paid.
E-ZPass Violation Facts:
E-ZPass transactions make up more than 54% of transactions Authority-wide,
On average, more than 3,000 unpaid toll transactions occur per day,
Currently there are more than 1,300 E-ZPass Maryland violation accounts with a minimum of $1,000 in tolls and administrative fees owed (chronic violations),
Approximately $5 million in toll violations is owed the Authority annually. More than 80% is being recovered,
Most violations occur at the Fort McHenry Tunnel (I-95).
The Maryland Transportation Authority is an independent State agency that finances, owns and operates the State's seven toll facilities. The Authority's eight Members, appointed by the Governor with consent of the State Senate, serve as the agency's policy-setting and governing body. Maryland's Secretary of Transportation serves as Authority Chairman.