Toll cheat program made permanent in New Jersey

ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. - July 25, 2013

Tolls are not suggested donations and you are expected to pay them.

That's the word from the head of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA), who, with help from the Motor Vehicle Commission, is suspending the vehicle registrations of habitual toll cheats who owe tens of thousands of dollars.

"We are going to come after you, and we are going to insist that you pay your tolls," said NJTA Executive Director Ronnie Hakim.

Toll cheating is a nationwide problem. As pictures from Florida show, people will go to great lengths to avoid paying a toll, and try to block the cameras from snapping a picture of their license plate.

But here in New Jersey, the Turnpike has had great success using toll booth photos to track down what they call the most egregious offenders.

The threat of suspending your registration seems to be working: the latest list of 300 deadbeats is starting to pay up on the combined $640,000 they owe.

"Of that," said Hakim, "we've collected over $225,000. So this is a good program. It's very effective."

When we visited the Turnpike's Molly Pitcher rest stop, motorists were squarely behind penalizing those who don't pay tolls.

"Go after them!" said Juliette Hinsey of Dover, N.J. "I have to pay it. They should, too. You know, we're all driving the same road."

"I have an EZ Pass, comes off my charge," said Paul Ziobrowski of Long Island, N.Y. "I mean, tolls have gone up incredibly. It's amazing, but you still gotta pay up if you want to use it."

"They should have to pay like everyone else," said Nicholas Fitzpatrick of Bethpage, N.J. "And if they don't, they shouldn't be able to drive. Take their registration and shut it down till they're able to pay."

So pay attention, toll cheats! You're on notice.

If you owe money to the Turnpike Authority, it's time to pay up or risk having your car registration suspended.

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