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Fed up with fines: Western New Yorkers sue Thruway Authority over cashless tolls

Posted at 9:52 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-19 02:44:18-04

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) — Frustration over cashless tolling at the Grand Island bridges is growing as three Western New Yorkers have filed a lawsuit against the New York State Thruway Authority.

The cashless tolls send drivers without an E-ZPass a bill in the mail, and if they are not paid, fines can really add up.

The fines come from fees that have accrued from missed payments. One of the people in this new lawsuit was forced to pay almost $2,300 in fines.

Timothy Hiller represents the people who are suing the Thruway Authority.

“The situation at the Grand Island Bridge is an outrage,” said attorney Timothy Hiller. “People are still adapting to the fact that the tolls have gone cashless, and the state is charging mind-boggling fines. Nobody should have their lives impacted so severely over a $1 toll.”

The basis of the lawsuit comes from the belief that the fines are unconstitutional for two reasons. It reads, in part:
“As laid out further below, the Defendants have collected, and have threatened to collect unconstitutionally excessive fines of more than 50 times the toll violation from Plaintiffs, and have denied Plaintiffs any reasonable opportunity to dispute the imposition of this fine.”

“We’re hoping the court will certify a class of not just our clients, but all of the people who have been affected by this,” says Hiller.

The hope from the lawsuit is to get the fine payments refunded, not just for Hiller’s clients, but anyone who has paid an excessive amount.

In response to the lawsuit, the New York State Thruway Authority says they have not been served at this time.

They issued this statement to us:
“Cashless tolling customers have nearly 100 days (or approximately three months) to pay their toll bills before violation fees are assessed. In fact, the first bill offers the customer the opportunity to pay just the toll without any fees. If it is not paid on time, additional bills are mailed to the address of registered owner of the vehicle. Each bill contains instructions for customers to pay their toll bills online, over the phone, or by mail.

We urge customers who have questions or traveled through a cashless facility and claim they have not received a bill to contact us immediately. Motorists are required under State law to update their addresses with DMV to ensure toll bills are mailed to the proper location.

Over the last year, cashless tolling has saved Western New Yorkers time, has reduced congestion at the Grand Island Bridges, and cut emissions to the local area. We continue to urge costumers to sign up for E-ZPass – which remains the easiest and most affordable way to pay tolls.”