Reporting Kai Jackson
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland drivers are racking up millions in unpaid tolls and leaving the state in debt. The Washington Post finds repeat offenders are breezing through toll roads and transportation officials aren’t doing anything to stop them. Kai Jackson has outrage from lawmakers and drivers.
Marylanders say the state has a responsibility to collect the money.
If you have an EZ-Pass in your car, driving through a toll is a fairly routine event.
“When I go through the tolls, I have to pay my $3. I’m a struggling college student,” said Katelynn Kemp.
But the Maryland Transportation Authority says thousands of drivers are zipping through the EZ-Pass lanes with no pass and no intention of paying.
“It’s wrong. It’s a crime. It’s just like going into a store and shoplifting,” said Veronica Kemp.
And we’re not talking chump change. The MdTA says 650,000 drivers owe the state a combined $6.7 million.
“I fought the toll hikes. I fought it with all my heart,” said Harford County State Senator Nancy Jacobs.
Jacobs is furious. She’s perplexed that on one hand, the MdTA pushed hard for toll hikes yet, on the other hand—with millions of dollars owed to the state from tolls, Jacobs says she can’t understand why the agency isn’t doing more to collect it.
“That would be $6 million that other people wouldn’t have to be paying in taxes. I think they should be going after them,” Jacobs said.
Part of the problem is before the MdTA can request the MVA suspend someone’s license, the MdTA, by law, has to hit violators with a $50 fine before the suspension can be initiated. The agency says it needs legislative approval to do that.
“We take all of those tolls that aren’t collected very seriously and are going to do everything in our power to collect them,” said Harold Bartlett, MdTA.
The MdTA says the money owed represents less than one percent of its budget.