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Considerations traffic courts make when assessing toll violations

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2021 | Traffic Offenses

Failing to pay a toll, in most cases, is an unlawful offense. Said offense can result in fines, administrative fees and other civil penalties.

That said, when assessing penalties, the courts consider the circumstances leading up to the offense. If the judge deems the reason for the violation reasonable, he or she may forgive the violation and the debt.

Penalties for failing to pay a toll in Virginia

Toll debt does not automatically go to the judicial level. According to the Code of Virginia, a toll facility operator may first try to collect the debt from the violator. For compensation for its efforts, the facility operator may also assess a recovery fee which, per state law, may only be in an amount that is reasonably related to collection efforts. Administrative fees may not exceed $100 per violation. Moreover, a facility may not assess a fee for a first offense unless the offender promises to pay the toll and then fails to do so after 30 days. If, however, the offender pays the toll within 60 days but after 30 days, the facility may not assess a fee of more than $25.

Circumstances the courts may consider when assessing toll violations

If the matter of an unpaid toll proceeds to the courts, the judge will not automatically assess a penalty on the offender. Also according to the Code of Virginia, he or she will consider the circumstances that caused the vehicle operator to fail to pay the toll. Reasonable circumstances are as follows:

  • The toll booth was unmanned and it was not equipped with an automatic vehicle identification system
  • The toll booth required the vehicle operator to pay with exact change and the vehicle operator did not have exact change
  • The toll road did not provide adequate warning that vehicle operators would have to pay a toll or that they would have to pay said toll in exact change

If any of the above circumstances apply to a defendant’s situation, the courts cannot hold him or her accountable for an unpaid toll. However, many people do not know this or understand their rights, which is why it is always advisable that vehicle operators consult with an attorney when they receive an unpaid toll notice.