HB 1069 (Jones)
Toll collection procedures, fees, and penalties; period of nonpayment; notice of unpaid tolls; reciprocity agreements and enforcement. Requires the Department of Transportation to allow E-ZPass account holders to provide an email or phone number and to electronically notify account holders of a toll violation and further requires toll operators to notify the Department of such toll violations. The bill amends the definition of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes to ensure that mass transit vehicles and commuter buses meet the high-occupancy requirement. The bill lengthens, from 30 to 60 days, the time period before the administrative fee increases from $25 to $100 for all toll violations. The bill decreases the civil penalties for an unpaid toll violation on the HOT lanes, making them equal to civil penalties for other toll violations, and allows the HOT lanes operator to offer reduced civil penalties if the owner of the vehicle pays within 14 days prior to the hearing date, which is also permitted for other toll operators. For violations on any toll road, the bill provides that for a first conviction there is a cap of $2,200 on civil penalties and administrative fees. The bill also provides for a 10-day grace period for unpaid tolls and requires toll operators to attempt to process and collect unpaid tolls twice during such period. The bill allows the Governor to enter into agreements on behalf of the Commonwealth with other states to provide for the enforcement of tolling violations occurring in Virginia on out-of-state residents and to enforce tolling violations in other states on Virginia residents. Reciprocity agreements with other states would provide for notification of the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or other similar entity in another state so that violators who have not paid would have their registration suspended in accordance with the agreement. The bill allows for agreements between toll operators or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes operators and DMV to include necessary information to enforce reciprocity agreements. The bill states that a toll violation on the HOT lanes is a traffic infraction and that a HOT lanes operator shall mail the statutorily required invoice for unpaid tolls, as is the case for other toll violations. The bill clarifies references to the issuance of summonses for toll violations and requires toll operators to attempt to collect tolls through a debt collector before mailing a summons. The bill provides for a two-year statute of limitations for all toll violations. The bill contains technical amendments.