With out-of-state motorists failing to pay nearly $10.5 million in tolls last year, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Carol Murphy and Bill Moen seeks to make it easier for New Jersey to collect tolls owed by non-resident drivers. The legislation passed the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee on Monday.
The measure (A-2556) authorizes New Jersey toll authorities to enter into reciprocity agreements with authorities from other states in order to collect tolls by enforcing penalties for nonpayment by motorists who travel between these states.
“Each year, New Jersey loses millions in revenue from out-of-state drivers who fail to pay their fair share of tolls when traveling through our state,” said Assemblyman Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “On our own, we are unable to enforce penalties that would encourage those drivers to pay their outstanding tolls. Reciprocity agreements will allow New Jersey to recover the money we are owed so that we can continue to make improvements to our roads.”
Under a reciprocity agreement, adequate notice must be provided to a driver who resides in one of the participating states and owes tolls to any of the other states participating in the agreement. Drivers would then be permitted to appeal the toll, if they believe it to be incorrect, without having to appear in-person in the state where the violation allegedly occurred. As such, drivers can present evidence to another state’s toll authority via mail, telephone or electronic means, or they can appear before their local Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).
“Anyone who utilizes our roads must contribute to their upkeep, yet drivers from other states have been able to skirt toll payments for years with minimal penalties,” said Assemblywoman Murphy (D-Burlington). “New Jersey must work with our neighbors to ensure proper toll collection so that we may continue to fund our transportation infrastructure.”
If a driver has six or more toll violations or has a cumulative unpaid total of $500 or more in tolls/fees over the span of three years, their vehicle registration may be suspended. The measure specifies that penalties for out-of-state toll violations cannot exceed $100 for the first violation or $600 for any subsequent violations.
“Other states that have entered into similar agreements have been highly successful at reducing out-of-state toll debt,” said Assemblyman Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester). “A reciprocity agreement is a commonsense approach to addressing this prevalent issue. Residents of each state will benefit from out-of-state drivers paying their tolls so that critical infrastructure maintenance receives full funding.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.