Houston/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on April 21, 2024
Houston Toll Violators Owing Over $500 Face Crackdown by Harris County DeputiesSource: Google Street View

Houston's toll violators with over $500 in unpaid fees are in the crosshairs as Harris County deputies gear up for a crackdown. According to KTRK, beginning Wednesday morning, those dodging tolls on the southwest and southeast plazas should expect increased enforcement efforts. An advanced alert system at toll plazas is helping officers to pinpoint and pursue those with significant outstanding balances.

Avoiding Houston's traffic can come at a price, for those seeking alternate routes on toll roads like the Hardy Toll Road and the Westpark Tollway, misusing the system has tangible consequences. Unpaid tolls can accumulate rapidly with fines and fees, as noted by Nicole Stuttz, chief of staff at the Harris County Toll Road Authority, in a conversation with the Houston Chronicle. Efforts are underway to enforce payment among the biggest offenders, individuals whose balances have surged past the $500 mark.

The toll road's rapid alert technology is a boon for law enforcement, providing specific details on violators. Sgt. Alex Gonzalez explained to KTRK: "It will send a picture of the vehicle, along with how long they have been a prohibited vehicle and how much money they owe and violations they owe as well. So, the officer will know that is the vehicle I have to stop, that is the back of the vehicle, that's the plate of the vehicle, description, and this is how much they owe." The move to increase toll evasion enforcement follows the toll authority's transition to a cash-free system and introduction of more payment options to encourage compliance.

Despite the looming threat of enforcement, there is a silver lining for compliant drivers. An EZ tag is obtainable at no charge and, starting Labor Day, toll prices will see a 15% rollback, as mentioned by KTRK. For those with unpaid tolls, balancing the books could prevent an encounter with law enforcement and ensure a smoother, legally compliant ride on Harris County's arteries.

Houston-Transportation & Infrastructure