Northern Virginia’s new HOT Lanes (High-Occupancy Toll), also called Express Lanes are costing some drivers thousands of dollars in fees. Anyone may use the lanes twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week but drivers with at least two passengers won’t have to pay tolls for using the lanes. The new lanes require a traditional E-ZPass or the recently released E-ZPass Flex transponders, which allow drivers to switch between HOV and toll-paying modes. A HOT Lanes violation can cost an unsuspecting driver in Virginia thousands of dollars.
The company that operates the roads, Transurban Operations Inc., is filing civil lawsuits for thousands of dollars against people who have failed to pay tolls, even when those failures are due to technical glitches or mere fund insufficiencies on E-ZPass accounts.
The civil penalties for offenders are as follows:
$50.00 for a first offense;
$250.00 for a second offense;
$500.00 for a third offense within a period of two years of the second offense; and
$1,000 for a fourth and subsequent offense within a period of three years of the second offense.
In addition to the civil penalties listed above, administrative fees also stack up. The first toll invoice has an administrative fee of $12.50 per trip and if the first invoice is not paid, the fee escalates to $25.00 per trip. The administrative fees are tacked on to cover the costs associated with locating and contacting the driver to request payment. If multiple invoices are sent, fees may increase and if a driver’s address is not up to date with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, his or her case may be turned over to a debt collection agency where fees will continue to increase.
If you are facing a lawsuit filed by Transurban Operations Inc., contact us for a free consultation.