WASHINGTON — The Beltway Express Lanes can be pricey and they can cost drivers even more if they miss the tolls. Now, after WTOP’s Ticketbuster reported on the huge potential fines, the operator of the lanes is making changes.
Under a new first-time forgiveness program effective this week, EZPass customers who commit a toll violation for a variety of reasons are able to contact Transurban within 60 days and pay the tolls without incurring a fee.
Transurban spokesperson Pierce Coffee says this one-time pass is for drivers who unknowingly miss a toll because they have insufficient funds, fail to link their license plate to their account or do not mount their device correctly.
When a first-time violator receives an invoice, they have 60 days to prove they have rectified the issue and pay the tolls in full. For customers who travel the Express Lanes frequently and may not be aware that they have been in violation, the fees are still waived if they contact the company and pay the toll charges within 60 days.
“If you get an invoice that has more than one trip, more than 10 trips, more than 15 trips, you call us. You tell us what the issue was, that you’ve put funds in your account. We collect your tolls and you move on. However, the next day, you’ve got that clean slate and it’s up to you to ensure that you’ve got your EZPass properly mounted, that you’ve got funds in your account and that your license plate is linked to your EZPass so that you avoid that in the future,” Coffee says.
If a first-time violator’s case goes to court, Transurban will cap the fees at $2,200. “With the new program in place, we will not be seeking more than $2,200 on any first-time violator no matter what,” Coffee says.
Repeat offenders will be fined according to Virginia law, which is $125 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, $500 for a third offense, and $1,000 for additional offenses.
The change follows a WTOP Ticketbuster story published earlier this year. Toni Cooley told WTOP she was charged more than $10,000 in fees after unknowingly traveling the Express Lanes 11 times with insufficient funds in her EZPass account.