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Pennsylvania to suspend registrations for unpaid turnpike tolls

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 2:03 p.m.
Those who owe unpaid tolls, violations and related fees are being offered partial amnesty.
Patrick Connolly | Tribune-Review
Those who owe unpaid tolls, violations and related fees are being offered partial amnesty.

Drivers in Southwestern Pennsylvania owe more than $3 million in unpaid tolls, violations and related fees, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission wants its money — including more than $1.7 million from people in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.

The commission Wednesday announced a partial amnesty program for toll and fee scofflaws, who have until Aug. 4 to pay up or face having their motor-vehicle registrations suspended.

The program is aimed at having the worst toll offenders — 10,611 motorists who racked up invoices and violations worth $17.1 million — pay before Act 165 becomes law, turnpike spokeswoman Roseann Placey said. Those drivers have six or more outstanding toll invoices or violations — or unpaid tolls and fees totaling $500 or more, she said.

Motorists who pay now will have additional fees waived.

The program is open to anyone with an outstanding toll bill or violation, not just those who owe the most.

“Our customers pay tolls so we can keep our roadway safe and in good repair and meet our obligation to PennDOT to help fund mass-transit services statewide,” said Mark Compton, the turnpike's chief administrative officer. “Now, those who are habitually taking a free ride, both private and commercial drivers, will have to stop doing that or risk a suspension. It's simply not fair to those who do pay their fair share.”

Act 165 was enacted last fall and provides stronger enforcement tools to ensure motorists who use a toll road or bridge pay what is owed.

Nearly 18 percent of the $17.1 million owed — more than $3 million — has been accrued by motorists in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, according to the turnpike commission.

Drivers in Allegheny County owe the most — $913,768 — in the region, with those in Westmoreland County second at $879,897. Fayette County ranked third, with $741,978 owed, the commission reported.

“Last week, letters explaining our partial amnesty plan were mailed to those at imminent risk of suspension. While repeat violators may have ignored multiple past attempts to collect outstanding tolls and penalties, this is a notice they should not ignore,” Compton said.

As of June 23, the turnpike had mailed more than 280,000 violation notices and invoices to the nearly 11,000 motorists at risk of having their registrations suspended. That is an average of more than 26 letters per person, Placey said.

More information about the partial-amnesty program, or to determine whether you have unpaid toll violations, can be found at PATurnpike.com/violationenforcement .

Payments may be made by calling 877-PennPass (877-736-6727) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

If there is a wait, callers can leave a message and will receive a return call within 48 hours.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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