Illinois Tollway to sue worst scofflaws
SUN-TIMES MEDIA September 6, 2012 6:02PM
Vehicles approach Waukegan Plaza on I-94 to pay tolls in this Jan. 2, 2012 file photo. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:48PM
If you’ve got outstanding violations for unpaid tolls in Illinois, you’d better pay up, or you may find yourself in court.
The Illinois Tollway on Thursday announced plans to pursue its worst toll violators by filing lawsuits against them in court. The agency plans to begin filing its first administrative judgment in circuit court on Friday.
Up to this point, the Illinois Tollway has sent these violators at least five notices, called them at least four times and offered them multiple chances to enter a settlement agreement with the option to use a payment plan to settle the debt, according to a tollway press release.
Overall, the entire process takes nine months to more than two years from the time a violator receives a first violation notice to the point at which a judgment is filed in court.
“We are sending a clear and strong message to these chronic violators who use the tollway regularly without paying: ‘Your time is up. Anything less would be unfair to the 98 percent of tollway customers who pay their tolls on time,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said.
“We’ve continued to pursue these chronic violators through our own processes and by working with collection agencies, but now we have no other choice but to pursue them in court,” Lafleur said. “Collectively, they owe our agency more than $300 million in tolls and initial fines.”
The agency also will increase coordination with the Illinois State Police who patrol all 286 miles of the tollway system to identify vehicles with suspended license plates. Violators of this offense could face fines of up to $2,000.
“This zero-tolerance policy is the only option we have left to make sure that these chronic violators end up paying their fair share,” Illinois Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff said. “Tolls are a significant source of revenue for maintaining and improving our region’s transportation system and we have a responsibility to try to collect all of it.”
Violators should contact the phone number listed on their collection agency notices for more information about how to take care of their debt.