Mostly Out of Staters Owe Maine $800,000+ in Unpaid Tolls
No, you really DID read that correctly. According to the KJ, the actual number is closer to $824,000 and consists primarily of tolls due from people out of state.
If you remember last year we did a story on five big rigs from Rhode Island that were impounded by Maine State Police because their parent company owed the state north of $75,000 in tolls. While that's a fairly extreme case, it does highlight an ongoing problem for the Maine Turnpike Authority.
It's estimated that about 200,000 cars pass through our tolls without ever paying a dime each year. And while $824,000 may seem like a massive amount, it actually only adds up to a fraction of Maine's annual income from tolls, which is approximately $140 million.
Though so much money is owed, it's almost guaranteed that Maine will never see all of it. That is primarily due to other states and Canadian provinces that refuse to provide the identity and contact information of drivers that the Maine camera systems photograph illegally blowing through our tolls.
In addition to all of that, there a thousands of cases annually where the toll cameras are unable to accurately capture all the characters on a license plate due to the plates being dirty, obstructed or not even attached to the vehicle.
According to Peter Mills, Executive Director of Maine Turnpike Authority,
“Your guess is as good as mine in terms of trying to put a dollar value on those 200,000 plates that went through, in some cases vehicles without plates,” Mills said. “We don’t know where to begin to identify the car or vehicle or try to collect from them.”
For chronic violators, the State has the ability to suspend the vehicle's registration until such fines are paid. For out of state vehicles, Maine can actually remove their right to operate inside state lines until fines are paid.