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New Pennsylvania Law Allows State to Suspend Vehicle Registrations for Drivers Avoiding Toll Fees

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Pennsylvania is advancing new legislation to recoup losses from people who evade tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The measure, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf late last week, will allow the state to suspend the car registrations of drivers who do not pay tolls on the state highway starting next year. In total, the state expects that the new law will force about 25,000 owners and operators of vehicles who travel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to pay their overdue fees.

Following Governor Wolf's approval of the measure, beginning in about two months, the Turnpike Commission will begin informing drivers with overdue fees that they will seek the suspension of their registrations unless they satisfy their obligations to the state. A month after this warning, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will notify drivers of their need to pay their overdue fees or risk the suspension of their registration. Alexis Campbell, a spokesperson with the agency, says that the Department of Transportation will give drivers six weeks to meet their obligations before suspending registrations.

The new bill further makes it easier for the state to seek unpaid fees by reducing the amount owed to trigger registration suspension from $500 to $250. Additionally, the condition can now seek registration suspension on a minimum of four violations instead of the six violations mandated by the old law. Finally, the state can now seek compensation for violations that occurred up to five years ago instead of the previous legislation's three-year cap.

Mark Compton, who heads the Turnpike Commission, says that the new measures are designed to make it easier for the agency to collect unpaid toll fees. Compton further adds that it is unacceptable for drivers to travel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike without paying their fair share of expenses. Along with allowing the agency to seek redress against those who do not pay their fees, the law further mandates criminal penalties for drivers who intentionally alter their license plates to avoid tolls.