Terry Danaher is with Citizens Against Unfair Tolls, and she has been trying to educate the public about what the real costs of the tunnel are.
In the end, when it comes to making drivers cough up what they owe.
“The state is going to help enforce so our tax dollars once again are going to help the profits of a private corporation,” said Danaher, who is referring to Virginia Code 46.2-819.3:1.
It specifies that if you choose not to pay just one invoice with at least two tunnel trips on it, ERC can actually turn your name into the DMV.
The state will then bar you from renewing your car registration and tags.
At that point, if you want to pay up, you will owe your unpaid tolls, ERC's pay by plate processing fees, up to a $100 dollar late fee, and then a $40 dollar DMV fee for their troubles in addition to your renewal costs.
They also have agreements with other DMVs around the country, so you still have to pay even if you don’t have Virginia plates.
Now, there is an option for drivers who don't think they should have to pay legally.
You can protest your toll bill within 60 days to ERC, and they will send you a summons to go to court.
Virginia law says the Commonwealth Attorney in the city where toll facility is located may help them prosecute.
When we asked Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney Earl Mobley’s office, though, they say they won’t be using any of their office’s funds to help ERC prosecute those who avoid tolls.
ERC can appear in court to try to collect and if the judge sides with the tolling company, you could be paying hefty civil penalties, in addition to your toll bill, late fees, and court costs.
“The penalties are onerous, they mount really quickly, starting at $50 for the first offense, and mount up to $500 for your fourth offense,” said Danahur.
So what about members of the military? Many of them are coming and going from deployments and might not even realize the tolls are starting.
Their cars are registered in other states, and the bills will most likely be going to their home of record addresses.
NewsChannel 3 took those questions to ERC, who responded:
“ERC's approach is to be as flexible as possible within the framework of the code. We recognize the environment of our transient military community and will work with individuals on a case by case basis.”
If you have any more questions about the tolls, EZPass or ERC’S Pay by Plate program, just email info@DriveERT.com.
To get an EZPass if you are a Virginia Resident, go online at https://www.ezpassva.com/
To get an EZPass if you are a North Carolina Resident, go online at https://www.myncquickpass.com/en/home/index.shtml