Late fees don’t necessarily make you a bad person, but they do make you irresponsible. It’s not like public libraries or the last three Blockbusters in existence are going to publicly list your name for the world to see just to shame you into paying a couple bucks in late fees.
On the other hand, if you happen to owe outstanding fees in the six-figure range, don’t be surprised when you're outed as a deadbeat, especially if you owe that money to Texas Department of Transportation.
It's not too surprising that the Austin area would owe the most in late toll fees to TxDOT, but the size of the bills racked up by some single car owners is shocking.
In an effort to collect a cool $27 million dollars in unpaid tolls and fees, TxDOT has released the names of the 25 Texas residents who owe the department the largest sums, and it just so happens that all 25 reside here in the greater Austin area.
It's not too surprising that the Austin area would owe the most change to TxDOT, considering the concentration of toll roads in the region. But the biggest surprise is the size of the bills racked up by some single car owners.
At the top is a fee of $236,026.32 owed by Pflugerville resident Ronny Lewis, followed closely by a Hutto's Mandy Dyment, who owes $217,619.79. In all, there are 16 individual Central Texas drivers who owe the state more than $100,000.
The purpose of putting names to outstanding fees is to try and shame some of them into beginning to pay back their debts, and it’s all thanks to Texas Senate Bill 1792. Just passed during the last legislative session, SB 1792 authorizes TxDOT to publish names in order to get their due.
But TxDOT doesn’t just rely on hoping to prey on people’s guilty conscience. The department can also ban vehicles from using TxDOT toll roads with Texas Transportation Commission approval.
If stopped by law enforcement, vehicles in violation of the ban can be ticketed and impounded. They can also report violators to county tax assessor-collectors to potentially block the renewal of the vehicle’s registration.
If your name just so happens to appear on this list and you want to avoid an awkward conversation with your neighbors, you can call the TxTag Customer Service Center at (888) 468-9824 from 8 am – 7 pm on weekdays. You might not have to pay your exorbitant fee immediately, since TxDOT can offer a negotiated settlement amount or a payment plan.
Or you can just avoid taking responsibility, run off and begin a new life under a new name in New Hampshire or wherever you can't be reached by the long arm of TxDOT.