Unpaid tolls and fines could soon catch up with the Illinois Tollway's most frequent violators.
Tollway officials announced Thursday plans to file lawsuits against its worst violators in an effort to recoup more than $300 million in unpaid tolls and fines. The agency plans to file its first administrative judgments in circuit court Friday.
“We are sending a clear and strong message to these chronic violators who use the Tollway regularly without paying: ‘Your time is up,’” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a press release. “Anything less would be unfair to the 98 percent of Tollway customers who pay their tolls on time."
Up to this point, the Tollway has mailed its chronic violators at least five notices, called at least four times and offered multiple opportunities to enter a settlement agreement with the option to use a payment plan to settle the debt.
According to the release, the process takes anywhere from nine months to two years from the time a violator receives the first violation notice to the point at which a lawsuit would be filed in court.
There are currently 1.2 million outstanding violation notices, Tollway officials said.
“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 in the release.
The Tollway will also begin working with the Illinois State Police District 15, which patrols all 286 miles of the tollway system, to identify vehicles with suspended license plates. As of July 2012, there were about 550,000 unique license plates with violations associated with them, Tollway officials said.
Violators could face fines up to $2,000, according to the release.
The Illinois Tollway is a user-funded system that receives no state or federal funding. More than 1.4 million vehicles travel the tollway daily—98 percent of which pay their tolls on time.
Tollway violators should contact the phone number listed on their collection agency notices for more information on how to resolve their debt. A detailed timeline about the collections process is included in a PDF file to the right of this article.
For more information, visit http://www.illinoistollway.com/tolls-and-i-pass/violations.