MTA Bridges and Tunnels cops seized a driver’s car at the Whitestone Bridge in the Bronx last week after they found the motorist owed a whopping $58,000 in unpaid tolls and fees.
The driver amassed those debts since 2017 and is one of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s top toll violators, the agency declared Tuesday, adding that officials had sent the car’s owner nearly 400 reminders to pay his outstanding debts – or else!
“Our law enforcement personnel are trained to look for motorists who have repeatedly failed to pay their tolls, and are equipped with specialized license plate readers that can instantly identify those motorists,” said MTA B&T President Daniel DeCrescenzo in an Oct. 5 statement. “Drivers who have failed to pay their toll bills are subject to being pulled over and having their car impounded. I commend our officers for their vigilance in making this stop.”
The driver who was pulled over at the time was not the owner of the car, but officers gave the motorists a summons for driving without a registration, before impounding the vehicle for the mountain of unpaid tolls and fees owed.
Since MTA transitioned to cashless open road tolling four years ago, officers have impounded some 5,000 vehicles from drivers who failed to pay their tolls and they handed out more than 31,000 summonses for obstructed or covered license plates, according to officials.
Tampered or obscured license plates that make it hard for the automated toll readers to register can trigger a $138 fine.
One of MTA’s own bus superintendents owed more than $100,000 in tolls and fees to three different agencies, including B&T, the State Thruway Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, almost twice as much in tolls as the driver caught last week, a recent investigation by the agency’s internal watchdog found.
The bus bigwig covered up his plates with an opaque plastic shield and even bragged to colleagues about his misdeeds that spanned the better part of a decade, the MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny’s probe found.
Unlike the driver recently caught in the Bronx, the transit honcho got to keep his car and was instead demoted and suspended without pay for 12 weeks, and MTA settled for $10,000 of his debts with B&T, about a third of the $30,000 he owed the agency in tolls and fees.