Mazda CX-5 Owner Busted For $57K Of Unpaid Tolls As NY Cracks Down on Cheats

Fines add up quickly for New York drivers that dodge paying tolls.

byLewin Day| PUBLISHED Jan 18, 2023 6:12 PM
Mazda CX-5 Owner Busted For $57K Of Unpaid Tolls As NY Cracks Down on Cheats
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A Mazda CX-5 owner has been busted for over $57,000 of unpaid tolls amid a major crackdown on toll cheats in New York.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been ramping up its pursuit of toll evaders. As reported by the New York Post, the agency set a record on Wednesday, January 11, for the most toll cheats caught in one day. Posted up at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, officials caught 21 drivers with unpaid toll violations.

The biggest offender caught had a massive 500 outstanding toll violations racked up since May 2021. The majority were incurred crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows toll bridge. According to an officer with the MTA, the offender claimed to be ignorant of the toll charges, despite having a glovebox full of outstanding notices.

MTA officers impounded the vehicles of the 21 drivers charged with evading tolls. To retrieve their cars, owners must pay their outstanding debt. In addition to unpaid tolls, charges can include $100 fines racked up every time "persistent toll violators" used a designated MTA crossing. The fines are handed out to drivers with three outstanding unpaid tolls across a five-year period. It's these compounding fines that lead to the astronomical debts racked up by individuals like the owner of the aforementioned Mazda CX-5.

Technology has made tracking toll violators easier. According to Officer Reginald Lede of the MTA's Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, persistent cheats are identified within seconds of crossing a toll gantry by camera systems that scan license plates. By and large, the agency doesn't chase offenders, preferring to instead wait to catch drivers the next time they attempt crossing a toll bridge.

According to the MTA, 90% of owners end up paying their toll debts to free their vehicles from the impound lot. Vehicles seized by the agency cannot be reregistered until outstanding amounts are paid. The agency estimates that it loses $50 million a year in unpaid tolls, though enforcement efforts recovered 40% of losses in 2022.

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