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. if they went through a tollbooth without paying one time per day, they would have to go through a booth every day of the week for 39 years and 4 months to have 14,358 unpaid tolls. How is this even possible? How many tolls per day are they subject to?

  2. I have had very few problems with the IPass system here in Illinois and it has been used in Indiana, Ohio and New York. I recommend it highly.

  3. Thanks, SWM. When I was there I took 35, never took the toll road because I didn’t know if my Illinois Pass worked. The Illinois pass works everywhere out east, but not in Kansas. I thought they might have Texas Ranger snipers if you didn’t pay. I was obviously wrong.

  4. So $236,026 / 14,358 toll violations is $16.44/per average toll? That is insane! I understand that figure includes collection fees, etc but still…

  5. Nick, These are small Texas towns that are northeast of Austin that have now become part of the exurban landscape. Ter ber, Somebody making $8 an hour would have to drive the more congested I35.

  6. Does that make it $10/15 dollars a pass? How are middle and under class suppose to afford this? This is mindblowing. How does someone commuting back and forth to work for $8 an hour afford this?

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