Motorists in New York are heading through the E-Z Pass lanes on the State Thruway in record numbers. However, many of these motorists are simply driving through these high-speed E-Z Pass lanes without paying the toll, seemingly unconcerned about the traffic violation that will be mailed to their home.
In fact, the New York State Thruway estimates that it lost roughly $3.1 million in 2010 because of E-Z Pass violations. This constituted an increase of 31 percent from 2009, when the loss of revenue was determined to be $2.4 million.
Why then are so many New York motorists turning into scofflaws on the Thruway?
With the economy in such bad shape, some experts theorize that people are consciously blowing through the E-Z Pass, simply hoping that they won't get caught.
"As the economy was kind of bad, maybe people took more chances, such as [not] putting money in their E-Z Pass accounts or just deciding to blow through," said P.J. Wilkins, executive director of the E-Z Pass Group located in Delaware.
Other explanations may be that it is relatively easy for people to drive right through the automated tollbooth lanes by accident or because they had no choice.
This latter scenario typically plays out during rush hour on the Thruway when it is very difficult - if not impossible - to change lanes, and people without an E-Z Pass unwittingly end up in the E-Z Pass lanes and have no other choice than to simply drive through.
Whatever the reasoning, the number of E-Z Pass violations issued in 2010 reached nearly 600,000, an eight percent increase from 2009.
These E-Z Pass violations are mailed to the home of a vehicle's registered owner - identified via a license plate camera - and demand both payment of the toll (sometimes from the furthest toll on the Thruway) and a $25 fine.
It is still too early to tell whether the Thruway will be able to collect the entire $3.1 million that was lost in 2010. In fact, while it can take years to track violators down, Thruway officials have vowed to continue searching.
Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...
A ticket for a traffic violation can result in serious consequences, including fines, points against your license, increased insurance rates, license suspension/revocation or even jail time. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has received a citation, don't just dismiss it.
Instead, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
WGRZ-2 "E-Z pass violations soar on New York State Thruway" Aug. 24, 2011