By John G. Merna
Highway Robbery: Toll Collection Out Of Control
When a few dollars in toll charges can rocket to $1,000’s of dollars Virginian’s are looking for a way to fight the unreasonable collection and penalty charges that can skyrocket a harmless error.
In recent years municipal and state authorities are increasingly using road tolls as a way to subsidize construction and maintenance of the state’s aging Virginia road, bridge and tunnel system. Even more dramatic is the shift to using private collection companies and law firms that tack on outrageous collection fees and penalties.
The list of toll horror stories is growing and taking it place among the debt horror stories of Virginia families along with student loans, payday loans, and timeshare debt.
With stories of a few dollar tolls rocketing to $100’s of dollars, Richmond and Portsmouth residents are well warned to consider an EZ pass to protect against toll debt. However, stories of delayed billing by toll authorities resulting in unreasonably high bills because collection and penalty fees are already added to the account.
A story reported by CNN online tells of a Virginia man charged $17,000 for tolls that totaled $36 at their inception.
Some toll debtors across the country are finding themselves in jail due to non-payment.
For residents of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and even Chesapeake, crossing the Elizabeth River Tunnel as part of your daily commune can amount to a $1,000 annual tax. Prior to 2012, the route was free. Local residents are also faced with annual fee increases. The real slap in the face is that they are not getting the benefit of the new tunnel and the hope of better traffic flow and are paying for something they may never use if they move from the area.
Yet, families that cannot afford a $1000 tax on driving to work have little choice but take their chances, change residences or employment to the same side of the tunnel to avoid this charge.
Legislators, municipal authorities, and state officials show little concern for the extremely poor deals they have executed on behalf of the voters.
Faced with outrages toll bills, more and more Virginia residents are opting to file bankruptcy with the few law firms familiar with how to alleviate their debt in bankruptcy.
Yes, tolls can be wiped out in bankruptcy. Unlike traffic fines and other court related fines, toll charges are a private debt and not excluded from discharge as other court penalties.
To find out more about wiping out your toll debt call Merna Law today at 800-662-8813. We will wipe that slate clean and start you on a fresh financial path.