Tarrytown – “New York’s system is too quick to escalate penalties, too quick to suspend registrations, too slow to lift suspensions and impossible to timely correct errors,” said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh/Mt. Pleasant) after learning of the expansion of New York’s chaotic cashless tolling system throughout the Hudson Valley.
Just last week, the Assembly passed Abinanti’s “Tollpayer Protection Act” (A9805), which would streamline the process for notifying drivers about tolls and fines.
Abinanti introduced the bill after hearing numerous horror stories from constituents about their experience with cashless tolling on the Tappan Zee Bridge. In many cases, late fees for hundreds of dollars went to collections agencies although the driver was never notified of any outstanding balance. Media reports further described families who were left on the side of the road after their cars were seized as a result of a registration suspension from outstanding cashless toll fees.
The bill allows consumers to sign up for text or email alerts when they receive a toll fee. Additionally, consumers have the right to dispute fees online and gain access to records regarding their tolls and other charges. Drivers would also have the option to set up a payment plan for incurred fees. The bill also prohibits motor vehicle registration suspension as a result of an obligation to pay a toll.
Lastly, any public authority that operates a cashless tolling system would be required to develop a public awareness campaign regarding the use and process for the payment of tolls.
“This legislation would establish a reasonable user friendly process to ensure that motorists timely receive notices and can easily pay their toll bills. It would ban the current unconscionable practices of imposing exorbitant fines and penalties,” said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti.