NJ Politics Digest: Sky-High E-ZPass Fees Coming Under Scrutiny

You could be facing hundreds of dollars in fines for missing a small toll because your E-ZPass transponder malfunctioned.

New Jersey officials shouldn't be charging motorists for violations that are a result of a mistake by the system.
New Jersey officials shouldn’t be charging motorists for violations that are a result of a mistake by the system. Scott Olson/Getty Images

You could be facing hundreds of dollars in fines for missing a small toll because your E-ZPass transponder malfunctioned.

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That’s the claim of people who have filed a class-action lawsuit that contends the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is fleecing motorists with excessively high fees for small violations that aren’t always their fault, according to a report in NJ.com.

The suit contends the state agency has collected more than $185 million from drivers over six years, according to the report.

The suit says it costs the Turnpike Authority $25 to process a violation, but the authority charges administrative fees well in excess of that amount. The report cites the case of a woman who missed a $3.25 toll but was billed $220—$3.25 for the toll and $217 in administrative fees.

The authority justifies the fees by tacking on the costs of things like toll lane maintenance, toll collection equipment, the fiber optic network, maintaining that equipment, transponder and staff costs, the report said. These, the authority opponents say, are normal operating costs that the authority is trying to pass off onto the backs of people with violations.

Nationally, other toll agencies charge administrative fees that are 95 percent less than the Turnpike Authority, the report said. Some state agencies charge adminstrative fees of $5, while others charge no fee if the toll is paid in 10 days, according to the report.

New Jersey officials also shouldn’t be charging motorists for violations that are a result of a mistake by the system or the process, a representative of the National Motorists Association told NJ.com.

A spokesman for the Turnpike Authority told NJ.com that the agency stands by the $50 fee it charges, contending the state spends more than that to process a single toll violation.

Quote of the Day: “Either we are all crazed homicidal maniacs or our speed limit setting methodology is deeply flawed. I don’t believe we’re all crazed homicidal maniacs.” — Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, on the need to review state speed limit regulations.

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NJ Politics Digest: Sky-High E-ZPass Fees Coming Under Scrutiny