Pay the Toll

Everyone has done it. You’re driving along, minding your own business, trying to figure out that personalized license plate in front of you, and suddenly you realize that you’re about to come to a toll. Without thinking, your arm extends and your hand shoots down into your combination ash tray / coin tray…empty. Scrambling, you check the cup holders, the door pockets, and your own pant pockets. Nothing.

As a last resort, you risk life and limb by lunging across the center console, searching the passenger seat and surrounding areas for any loose change, all the while keeping your hand steady and making sure to look up every three or four seconds.

Still zilch.

You come to the toll, as devoid of change as the moment you were brought into this world. What the heck, you think, I’ll just roll on through.

Only this time, as you take one last look in your rear-view, you catch a glimpse of a flashing red light as it calls out “You’ll pay for this…”

That’s right. It now it appears as though Virginia residents will be paying for dodging payments on toll roads. As reported in the Washington Post, the state is demanding that residents break out the dough for unpaid tolls. The Virginia Department of Transportation is at the heart of the operation, and has already demanded that dozens of violators pay back their debts. According to the state, a Reston man owes $21,000 for a total of 38 violations, and many others have debts that total over $10,000.

The large monetary figures are a result of rigid new enforcement practices by the state. Beginning on the fourth unpaid toll, violator’s will be charged $500 a pop for each subsequent drive-through. Court fees and administrative fees will also be included on the bill, based on locale. Transportation officials say that they are working on tougher laws and stiffer penalties for toll violators. State officials say that lax enforcement has cost the state millions of dollars over the past few years.

Just something to ponder the next time you’re thinking about cruising through that toll booth without paying.

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