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Today I got a letter in the mail from 'Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson llp' claiming I had a 4 dollar toll from a state I pretty much never drive in back in 2018 that I now owe 91 dollars on now, including a 15 dollar 'violent crime' fee, because not paying tolls is very violent? But it's okay because Delaware has an amnesty program and if I just pay in the next 20 days I 'only' have to pay 64 dollars on my 4 dollar toll.

As I said the state is hours of driving away from me and I couldn't imagine why I would be driving through it, though it's close enough, and long enough ago, that I can't rule out some forgotten long drive that took me through it. I've always had an ez-pass though so I would think any toll would have been automatically payed anyways. I've never received any notice about this supposed toll before today. I'd honestly suspect a phishing attempt if it wasn't for their asking me to pay via credit card in an easily tracked and recoverable manner, plus sending physical mail and knowing my license plate isn't the sort of thing phishers are likely to do.

However, even if the fee was real I dispute being asked to pay non-payment penalties for a charge I was never informed I owe, plus I'm still skeptical how a 4 dollar toll qualifies as a 'violent crime'. Is there any grounds to dispute something like this or will they tell me I'm guilty of not paying even if I didn't get informed I owed it?

For that matter, what kind of penalty would I face if I just threw the thing out? It's been 5 years and nothing has happened, so it seems like there isn't much they could do. I'd have no problem with paying a 4 dollar toll, but 91 dollars for a toll I was never informed about is just insane.

I'm in MD but the toll was supposedly in Delaware.

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    If you in fact incurred the toll and never paid, you may well owe some penalties. If your EZ pass account was at that time unfunded (linked credit card expired and not yet updated, say) or if the transponder was blocker or otherwise not read correctly the toll might have gone unpaid and your plate been captured. You could, surely demand evidence of the violation, and cites of regs under which it is claimed you owe the penalties. Simply ignoring this may cause you problems, including enforcement by MD. (I am also in MD). I haven;t checked DE regs so this is not an answer yet. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 23:10
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    "Is there any grounds to dispute something like this": debt collectors have to have evidence that the debt is real. Ask them for the photograph of your car passing through the toll booth. Maybe someone misread the license plate. You won't have to worry about whether the add-on charges are legally justified if they don't have sufficient evidence that the debt was valid to start with.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 23:45
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    "what kind of penalty would I face if I just threw the thing out?" It seems that the firm in question is indeed a licensed debt collector in Maryland, so, if they do have evidence that the debt is yours, they can seek to obtain a judgment against you in court. You might then owe additional fees. If they take you to court and you ignore them, their evidence doesn't even need to be particularly good, because there will be nobody to challenge it.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 23:51
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    "Someone misread the license plate" - happened to a mate of mine whose white van was supposedly caught speeding, so he sent them back a photo of his motorbike with an almost identical license plate (with a Y instead of a V).
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 0:59
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    It doesn't sound like the $92 was reduced to judgment by a court. So, there is probably a statute of limitations on the claim that applies.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 18:02

2 Answers 2

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It appears that 91.50 is the correct amount for a $4 toll that went unpaid for more than 42 days. EZ Pass violation notices can be appealed.

Your communication is apparently from a debt collector. You may demand evidence that the debt is valid before deciding whether to pay or contest the alleged debt. Or you can go straight to the Delaware EZ Pass authorities.

According to this official EZ Pass FAQ:

Q: What do I do if I receive a Violation Notice?
A: A Toll Violation Notice is issued for every violation (see example). In addition to the toll, a Violation Notice has a $25 Administrative Fee, $10 Ambulance Company Fund Fee, and a $15 fee to Combat Violent Crimes.

A Toll Violation Final Notice (see example) is issued if the Violation Notice has not been paid within 30 days. The Toll Violation Final Notice adds a Civil Penalty of $25 and a Civil Penalty Surcharge of $12.50 to the fees listed on the first Notice of Toll Violation. If the Toll Violation Final Notice is not paid, it will be subject to registration hold, collection activities or legal action.

Those fees would add up to $91.50 on a $4 toll if a violation went unpaid for 30 days or more. Note that the "violent crimes part" is to fund the "Combat Violent Crimes" program, not because a toll violation is itself violent.

The FAQ goes on to state:

Q: How can I appeal my violation?
A: Delaware E-ZPass Customers with accounts in good standing can appeal their violation notices by accessing the Appeal Page of this website, over the phone, in person, by fax or mail. If you are not a Delaware E-ZPass customer, please follow the written instructions on the violation notice. You can appeal by completing the appeal form on the back of your violation notice and mailing it to PO Box 697, Dover, DE 19903-0697.

To appeal your violation using this webpage, you must meet the following criteria:

You must be a Delaware E-ZPass customer. You can tell by your transponder number, it must start with 019 and have a label identifying it as belonging to DelDOT. (If you are not a Delaware E-ZPass Customer, please follow the written instructions on your violation notice).

You will need your transponder number. If you have multiple transponders on your account, any of your transponder numbers will do. It does not have to be the one on the vehicle for which you got the violation.

Your account must be in good standing. An account in good standing has a positive balance.

All the information you need is on the notice. Select Appeals and enter your license plate number then select the correct state of issuance from the pull down list. Enter the notice number. This is the 10-digit number at the top of your notice. It is called the Violation Number.

Click submit. You will see the Appeal Screen. Enter your 11-digit Delaware E-ZPass transponder number and click submit. You will receive a confirmation that your appeal has been sent to be reviewed and processed. If you receive an error message, double-check and re-enter the required information. If you still receive an error message or have any other problem, call us at 1-888-EZPassDE (1-888-397-2773).

Q: How do I know the outcome of my appeal?
A: You will receive a letter in the mail indicating that your appeal has been accepted or rejected. If your appeal is rejected, the letter will explain why.

Q: What are the reasons why I might have gotten a violation and how do I prevent it in the future?
A: If you are an E-ZPass Customer and have received a violation notice(s), please consider the following to help prevent additional violation notices. If you do not receive confirmation that your E-ZPass transponder was read in the lane, it is possible that your transponder is not working properly. The reason for this could be:

  • Your vehicle windshield blocks the transponder requiring you to use an external transponder.
  • The transponder is not mounted properly.
  • The transponder has been reported lost or stolen.
  • Your E-ZPass account is in insufficient funds status.
  • The transponder is malfunctioning.

If you need further help, please contact your Customer Service Center. Usually the phone number to contact your service center can be found on your transponder. If you are a Delaware E-ZPass customer, please contact the Delaware E-ZPass Service Center at 1-888-EZPassDE (1-888-397-2773) for assistance.

The "amnesty" program is describe on the page "Motorists who violated Delaware tolls to get 3 months to settle up with severely reduced penalties ", which states:

Anyone in arrears who committed a violation between January 1, 2014, and April 30, 2020, will receive a notification of the program to settle the debt owed plus an additional amnesty fee.

The bill details that a person who fails to pay a $1 toll typically incurs the following penalties:

  • an administrative fee of $25;
  • a civil penalty of $25;
  • for violations that occurred after January 31, 2017, a $10 fee for the Volunteer Ambulance Company Fund
  • for violations that occurred after January 31, 2017, a $15 fee for the Fund to Combat Violent Crimes.
  • In addition, a civil penalty surcharge of $12.50 is added for each toll violation that remains unpaid after 42 days

Ultimately, a $1 debt can increase to $51 initially, and then $88.50 after 42 days. Under the new bill, the amnesty fee is applied on a sliding scale, with penalties further reduced based on the increasing number of violations one may have incurred.

The resolution creating the amnesty program reads, in pertinent part:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Amnesty Program will be designed as follows:
(1) Include toll violations that occurred on I-95 or SR 1 between January 1, 2014 through April 30, 2020 but does not apply retroactively.
(2) Include toll violations by residential and commercial vehicles registered in any state.
(3) Satisfies toll debt if all of the following is paid:
a. The full amount of the unpaid tolls.
b. In lieu of the outstanding administrative fees and civil penalties, an amnesty fee as follows:

  1. For up to 10 toll violations, $60.00.
  2. For 11 through 50 toll violations, $135.00.
    ...

By the way all the above was fond on the fist page of results from the Google search: "Delaware ez pass unpaid regulations".

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It may be a pure scam. If you google the firms name you will see negative reviews from people who also got similar letters. The firm has a proper looking web site and an address in LA. I checked two of the names at the CA bar association and neither name came up with a hit.

I suggest going directly to the state.

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