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Mass. Ditches Honor System To Crack Down On Toll Evaders

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV
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The Weston toll booths on the Massachusetts Turnpike (file image)

The Weston toll booths on the Massachusetts Turnpike (file image)

WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Drivers who evade tolls end up costing honest drivers more. Getting them to pay up has been a challenge, particularly for those from out of state.

Massachusetts is joining forces with New Hampshire and Maine so each state can have better luck getting scofflaws to pay.

Up until now, Massachusetts would send a notice to an out of state driver outlining the fines and tolls owed, but Transportation Secretary Richard Davey says they relied on an honor system. “If they didn’t pay us, if they didn’t write us a check and send it in, there was really no way for us to go across the border and collect that toll,” he explained.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

Those tolls added up. Last year, more than a quarter million out of state drivers evaded Massachusetts tolls. The total in lost toll revenue was more than $800,000, but Davey says that’s just part of the story. “When we add in the toll violations, it is in the millions. We are talking anywhere from 5-10 million dollars on an annual basis.”

The new agreement among the three states is a potent tool, according to Davey. “If a person does not pay us and has a certain amount of violations, New Hampshire will stop their license and registration renewal until they pay that toll violation in Massachusetts. And vice versa, if you are a Massachusetts resident who hasn’t been paying your fair share in Maine or New Hampshire, we will hold up your license and registration here in the Commonwealth.”

The vast majority of drivers are honest and pay their tolls, but the millions of dollars the dishonest drivers are skipping out on end up costing all of us more.

Christopher Waszczuk with the New Hampshire Bureau of Turnpikes says the losses to his system total more than a million dollars.

When asked if a large number of violations could mean honest drivers could pay more at the toll booth down the line, he said absolutely.

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