State lawmakers are cracking down on drivers who don't pay their highway tolls. YNN's Meredith Zaritheny has more on the proposed legislation to crack down on toll evasion.
NEW YORK STATE -- The Tappan Zee Bridge Tolls are the focus of a new bill, that's aimed at cracking down on drivers who try to avoid paying tolls.
According to state lawmakers, it is a growing problem and is costing the state millions of dollars in uncollected tolls and fines.
"It's extremely important that we keep tolls as low as possible, and right now what we've seen just over the past four years, that at this toll plaza alone we have lost over $7 million in revenue," said Senator David Carlucci.
Senator Carlucci and Senator Charles Fuschillo are proposing bipartisan legislation that would impose higher fines and penalties for drivers who avoid paying highway or bridge tolls.
"We've got to treat it just like someone who jumps a turn style or a taxi from without paying or steals money from someone’s pocket. We've got to treat it the same way, them with criminal sanctions," said Senator Carlucci.
Under the new proposal, fines are set to double from $150 to $300 for a third violation in an 18 month period. Drivers with more than $1,000 in unpaid tolls would face felony charges.
Carlucci also wants to make it easier for different state agencies to go after serial offenders.
"Make it easier for the thruway authority or any authority to work with the DMV when we have chronic offenders to allow them to strip these people of their vehicle registration. Raise the fine on people who evade the tolls and have that money go toward a fun to actually reduce tolls," said Senator Carlucci.
Carlucci added drivers who don't pay the tolls need to be held accountable for their actions.
"So by dragging the system into the 21st century, giving the authorities around the state real teeth to go after toll evaders, we can keep some of that hard working money in everyday commuters pockets, and that's the end goal here. We got to stop this practice of keep raising tolls, it has to be the absolute last option, we have to leave no stone unturned in finding ways to keep out tolls as low as possible," said Carlucci.
Carlucci and Fuschillo plan to introduce their legislation in January.