A couple years ago, the family went through a toll booth in Illinois by mistake without paying: we mistook an automatic lane for a cash lane. We spent the rest of the day trying to reach someone to pay the toll only to be told that it would not be necessary. I thought of that experience today after reading about Ronny Williams and Cora Lewis of Pflugerville, Texas who have racked up $236,026.32 in unpaid tolls and fines. We are obviously on opposing ends of a guilt spectrum. By the way, Mandy and Stephen Dyment of Hutto were not far behind with $217,619.79 in unpaid tolls and fines.
I am, as many on this blog know, a huge critic of the increasing use of toll roads in the U.S. while we spend wildly on wars abroad. This is a basic service for the government that is being handed over to private interests by legislators.
Nevertheless, how do you rack up $236,026.32 in unpaid tolls you ask? By going through tolls 14,358 times without paying. I am always struck by the disconnect. I see people booted all the time for unpaid tickets, but somehow a couple can have almost a quarter of million dollars in unpaid tolls and fines and still have an operating vehicle.
The state is planning to release the names of the top 25 worst violators and they all come from the Austin area. Sixteen offenders have more than $100,000 in unpaid tolls. However, Ronny and Cora are the gold medal winners for toll jumpers everywhere.
I am eager to hear their defense. Even with multiplying fines, the number of unpaid tolls is staggering. I do not understand why anyone would assume that they could continue to operate with such massive fines levied against them.
The state is insisting that it will go after the money, which could produce some of the first toll-based bankruptcies.
Here is the top ten list released by the state:
Ronny Williams and Cora Lewis, Pflugerville: $236,026.32
Mandy and Stephen Dyment, Hutto: $217,619.79
Renee Lee Ferguson, Hutto: $166,506.35
Taniqua Evans, Hutto: $158,705.16
Theresa Twyefort, Pflugerville: $149,418.37
Amee J. Geren, Round Rock: $145,341.08
Judy Blundell, Taylor: $141,755.21
Ashley A. Canada, Austin: $139,344.62
Laura A Gregory, Round Rock: $132,750.33
Mina Henderson, Hutto: $124,132.84