Cuomo Vetoes Toll Payer Protection Act, Says Bill Would Hamstring Enforcement

On Dec. 28, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed the Toll Payer Protection Act promoted by local legislators, Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti (D-Greenburgh) and state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown), author of the state Senate version of the bill.

The two lawmakers had called on the governor to sign the law to protect the public from what they described as outlandish fees and penalties forced on drivers who are sent toll bills by mail. The lawmakers view the problem as becoming increasingly pervasive as cashless tolling increases in New York state.

In December it was announced that cashless tolling would be installed on Interstate 95 in New Rochelle.

As reported by Lo-Hud.com, “This bill makes a number of substantial and systematically problematic changes to the capability of toll authorities to both collect tolls and enforce toll violations in the state of New York,” Cuomo wrote in his veto, which concluded with his intention to “propose additional enhancements to benefit all system users in next year’s executive budget.”

The Toll Payer Protection Act would have established a user-friendly process to ensure that motorists receive timely notices and could easily pay their toll bills. It also would ban the practices of suspending vehicle registrations and imposing exorbitant fines and penalties on vehicle owners.

However, Cuomo said the bill would facilitate greater toll evasion, by lowering to the point of insignificance any penalty that would be charged for nonpayment of a toll bill and that prohibiting registration suspension for nonpayment would hamstring the state’s ability to enforce toll collection.

According to Abinanti and Carlucci, the cashless tolling systems are not specifically authorized by New York State law and are of questionable legality.

On average, toll-by-mail bills make the Thruway Authority about a $1 million a month in revenue.

In their argument for the Act, Abinanti and Carlucci said many vehicle owners claimed they never received their toll bills in the mail or were already sent to collections by the time they realized they had an outstanding bill.

Both lawmakers noted that if the current system were working on behalf of drivers then fines would not exceed actual toll fares collected by the state. Cashless tolling began in April 2016 and the Thruway Authority collected more in fines than in fares from July 2017 to January 2018.

“We are disappointed the Governor vetoed the Toll Payer Protection Act. Now drivers are left vulnerable to an unfair cashless toll system. As a result, drivers will still not get timely bills, they will face exorbitant penalties, and they could be victimized by vehicle registration suspensions. We welcome discussions with the Governor to fix the cashless toll billing system,” Abinanti and Carlucci said in a statement released Dec. 28.

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