Starting Sept. 1 drivers who are deemed habitual tollway violators will no longer be able to register their vehicles in Collin County.
The North Texas Tollway Authority defines a habitual violator as a registered vehicle owner who has more than 100 or more unpaid tolls in a year and has been issued two nonpayment notices.
Previously, drivers who fell into that category could register their vehicle in-person at the Collin County Tax Assessor-Collector Office, but were not able to register online.
The change in policy comes after Collin County Tax Assessor-Collector Kenneth Maun decided to abide by Senate Bill 1792 that passed in 2013, which made it possible for county tax assessor-collector’s to block vehicle registration under scofflaw.
In 2013, when the scofflaw first went into effect, Maun said he decided to opt out of the law because he felt the NTTA was doing a poor job with administrative functions, were penalizing taxpayers excessively with fees, and were only sending out collection notices every three months.
He also said his office was understaffed and could not handle the extra workload of enforcing scofflaw on top of his offices primary duties of title transactions and registrations.
“They were not giving me sufficient people to be able to do that job for the citizens of Collin County as it was,” he said. “So, I was short staffed and they wanted me to take on scofflaw for free, and I told them that’s interesting, but I can’t do that and give good service to the citizens of Collin County.”
Collin County Commissioners, however, wanted Maun’s office to enforce the law, so Maun said they struck a compromise. When his office was fully staffed with 120 people the office would comply with the law for violators.
“The reason I put Sept. 1 was because if I’m granted the budget for those people now I have to hire them,” he said. “I have to get them approved by the commissioner’s court and I have to train them so they can handle this work at the counter.”
Maun said on average it takes three minutes for employees to register a customer’s vehicle, and about 12 minutes to handle a title transaction, but when people come in wanting to register a vehicle that is not eligible because of unpaid violations, it takes longer.
Employees will talk to the customer wanting to register his or her vehicle for a minute or two before they find out that person is not eligible and needs to pay their outstanding bill with NTTA. Officials say when this happens, the customer will want to talk several more minutes about why he or she can’t get this taken care of at the office. It’s a routine Maun said will increase registration time.
“Some of them (habitual violators) are going to know that they’re going to have it and some of them aren’t, but none of them are going to be happy and none of them are going to take zero time,” he said. “So it adds up that they’re going to take additional time, which we were not originally staffed for.”
Last year, 29,144 vehicle registration blocks were issued in Collin County alone Michael Rey, the Media Relations Manager with NTTA, reported. So far this year 7,995 vehicle blocks have been issued.
On average, 3,682 vehicle blocks are issued per 100,000 people in Collin County. That’s a number even higher than Dallas County which averages 3,173 blocks per 100,000 people.
“We see the most interest in this subject from our 92 percent of customers who do pay their toll bills,” Rey said over email. “We want them to know we are using every tool we have to receive payment from scofflaws — it’s all about fairness.”
On registration renewal notices all outstanding toll fees are listed and drivers in violations should contact NTTA to pay their fees or request a hearing before a Justice of the Peace to review their status.
Habitual violators have 30 days to dispute the status. If a customer enters into a payment agreement with NTTA the registration block will be removed.