Olympic Toll-Jumping: Texas Couple Reportedly Owes Over $236,000 in Unpaid Tolls and Fines

300px-SR_417_University_Toll_PlazaA 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

250px-Hutto,_TX,_water_tower_IMG_2213The presence of four from Hutto is fascinating. This is a town that only had 14,698 people registered in the 2010 census. However, they occupy 40 percent of the top ten list of toll jumpers in Texas.

29 thoughts on “Olympic Toll-Jumping: Texas Couple Reportedly Owes Over $236,000 in Unpaid Tolls and Fines”

  1. The whole top 10 are the North West Suburban Austin area (and 1 from Austin). Something tells me that there is a lot more to the story than just unpaid tolls.

  2. Lottakatz: “Obviously this didn’t start yesterday, what took the govt. so long?”

    Well, Lottakatz, they were too busy fighting the President, the ACA, making certain that women couldn’t get health services, worrying about those ‘nasty secularists’ trying to teach Evolution, some fictitious entity coming to take their beloved guns away, parading around with tri-corner hats replete with dangling tea bags, refighting the Civil War, and the list goes on and on. After all, it IS Texas.

  3. Bruce, Jean..now come on, Obamacare is not a tax, he told us it wasn’t. Pay no nevermind to the Supreme Court. It is ironic that the twisting a fine into a tax is the only thing that made this “Train wreck” constitutional. You gotta love irony.

  4. We need SWM or some other Texan to give us the skinny on these towns. The guy in the flick, Bernie, who described the different areas of Texas, would be a good source.

  5. I had to laugh @ Mr. Turley’s plight. When Blago put in open road tolling there were just a few kickbacks involved, you know, the Chicago way. Well, Blago gave the contract for cameras on the open road toll booths to some crony who almost certainly kickbacked. The cameras were horseshit and the plates were not readable. My DMV sources told me they got thousands of photos from Illinois DMV. You could tell it was a Wi. plate but the characters were unreadable. It took Illinois ~3 years to get good cameras installed. So, Mr. Turley, depending on when you were a scofflaw, you were OK!

    I know, a convenient anecdote. I swear under oath this, and EVERYTHING I say is true. I’ve been around, ya’ know.

  6. The government shouldn’t have the power to force tax payers to pay a toll to use a road that the tax payers paid for just another government money grab

  7. RTC…

    I recall when a state privatized the liquor commission for 26 million….wouldn’t I like to have that cash cow…..

  8. AY,

    That’s how privatization works in this country. Private business with connections grab up leases, massively overcharge and woefully underperform, screw things up and then turn around and blame the govt.

  9. “A slave, Adam Orgain, was actually the first person to live in the immediate Hutto vicinity having been placed out on the black land prairie by his owner to watch after the cattle and livestock holdings.” – Wikipedia

  10. Perhaps there is some resentment in their genes:

    A slave, Adam Orgain, was actually the first person to live in the immediate Hutto vicinity having been placed out on the black land prairie by his owner to watch after the cattle and livestock holdings.

    (Wikipedia, Hutto TX).

  11. As John stated about the ipass.. There are three levels of tolls for the same vehicle depending on how you pay…. Really….

  12. Actually the toll system is the biggest rip off fever in the state of Texas…. What can start out as a .70 cent toll can and will be billed sometimes in the neighborhood of 100.00….. They add billing fees,the toll and collection expenses….. It is one of the craziest ways to pay for roads… The state provides the money for the roads, then leases the collection to a private firm…. I avoid them as much as I can.

  13. Yeah but they have people without an I-pass pay twice as much!!

    I suppose the toll commissioner’s response would be that they have to pay people to take the tolls…and that’s my next complaint.
    They have one of the toll booths that isn’t staffed at night. I drove my Camaro up to Chicago last year for Muscle Car Nationals, and I used it at night. I then saw they expected ME to do THEIR job!!

    So I called the toll number & explained that I had went through and that they could stop by anytime & get their money.
    The nice lady explained that I had to send it to them, or the fine would go up.
    I told her I would be happy to do that, I charge $20 an hour with a minimum of 1 hour. So actually they would owe me money.
    She couldn’t grasp what I was saying so she put her supervisor on and I went through the whole thing again, explaining that I would be happy to do their work for them, but NOT FOR FREE!

    The supervisor explained that they had no people there at night, so I needed to send in the money. I inquired if she got paid for helping to collect tolls, she said yes, and I explained that’s all I was asking for.
    So as far as I could see they had three options, get someone there to collect tolls, get a automatic machine to collect them, or pay me.

    She gave me the number for the Toll supervisor in Springfield, left my name & number, but have never heard from anyone again.

    Twice as much for no Ipass, and THEN expect people without one to do their work for them?!?

    I think their whole system could use a good tweaking.

  14. Obviously this didn’t start yesterday, what took the govt. so long? At some point the concept of stale charges has to come up doesn’t it? I wonder if the state was running up on some statute of limitation deadline.

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