The Illinois Tollway today announced plans to pursue its worst toll violators by filing lawsuits against them 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,’” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Anything less would be unfair to the 98 percent of Tollway customers who pay their tolls on time.”
The Tollway began filing administrative judgements in circuit court today, Friday, Sept. 7.
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 opportunities to enter a settlement agreement with the option to use a payment plan to settle the debt.
Overall, the entire process takes nine months to more than two years from the time a violator receives a first violation notice from the Tollway to the point at which a judgment is filed in court.
“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.”
In addition, the agency will increase coordination with the Illinois State Police District 15, which patrols 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.”
The Illinois Tollway is a user-funded system that receives no state or federal funding for maintenance and operations. More than 1.4 million vehicles travel the Illinois Tollway daily. Ninety-eight percent of Tollway users pay their tolls on time.
Violators should contact the phone number listed on their collection agency notices for more information about how to resolve their debt. To view a detailed timeline that includes typical milestones in the collections process for violators who do not pay their violation notices on time, visit the tollway's website.
By the numbers:
- $300 million – Total amount owed to the Tollway in unpaid tolls and initial fines
- 550,000 – Estimated number of unique license plates with violations associated with them as of July 2012
- 1.2 million – Total number of violation notices outstanding