According to the Chicago Tribune, officials from the Illinois Tollway on Thursday announced that the agency will be filing up to 50 lawsuits in order to recover money owed from businesses and individuals that never paid tolls at Illinois tollbooths across the state. The agency is estimating that it is owed about $300 million in unpaid tolls from these debtors, as well as initial fines for these violations, which date back from 2001.
Here are some facts and details made by the Illinois Tollway today and what it will mean for the worst tollway scofflaws:
* The Chicago Sun-Times noted that the agency will be filing the first round of administrative judgments, which will specifically target outstanding debts from commercial fleets and businesses, in circuit court this Friday.
* The individuals and businesses that owe the state have already been contacted via telephone and mail and given numerous opportunities to pay back their debts. Officials said they have notified violators at least five times and also have given the option for a payment plan.
* Additionally, violators are given at least nine months of notices to pay unpaid tolls and fines before any legal action is taken against them, reported an article from WREX.
* However, legal action against an individual or business could take more than two years.
* Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur commented on the agency's plans today by saying, "We are sending a clear and strong message to these chronic violators who use the Tollway regularly without paying: 'Your time is up.' Anything less would be unfair to the 98 percent of Tollway customers who pay their tolls on time."
* Dating back to 2001, there are currently 1.2 million outstanding tollway violation notices in the state.
* The Illinois State Police District 15, the state's tollway patrolling district, will also be working with the agency to crack down on people driving with suspended license plates, a violation that carries a fine of up to $2,000.
* As of July of this year, there are a total of 550,000 unique license plates that have violations attached to them.
* Speaking on the importance of the lawsuits set to be filed, Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff added, "Tolls are a significant source of revenue for maintaining and improving our region's transportation system and we have a responsibility to try to collect all of it."
* While the agency emphasized that the announcement today will not affect those who owe small, minimal amounts, it is still encouraging individuals to pay their outstanding toll debts, which can be done online through the Illinois Tollway's website.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
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