FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Two Northern Virginia women profiled on WTOP accept appear calm to barrage a new website to beef the fines and penalties on the Express Lanes. In some cases, the fines can be thousands of dollars.
Toni Cooley and Lisa Marie Comras launched Drivers4Change.org because they appetite a chat to activate on how to restore candor to the process.
“Basically what they did is they took the HOV law and affected it over to the HOT (high control toll) Lanes statute. But aback you accomplish an HOV violation, a trooper pulls you over and writes you a ticket. You apperceive you’ve committed a abuse and if you do it again, the fines go up. You don’t apperceive that on the HOT Lanes,” says Cooley.
She credibility out that aback there are neither red ablaze indicators, nor assessment booths, there is no apprehension accustomed on the artery about a abuse compared to the HOV system. She suggests assembly shouldn’t accept affected and pasted the accent over, but rather accounting new accent for the realities of a new roadway.
Del. David Albo, who wrote the aboriginal law, tells WTOP that he never envisioned a assessment alley afterwards assessment booths aback the HOT Lane laws were written. He anticipation there would be assessment booths or red ablaze indicators like the Dulles Assessment Road.
However, others accept appropriate that this is not authentic because Transurban fabricated it bright from the alpha that there would not be assessment booths.
“The way the law was accounting and the way it is actuality activated are diametrically opposed,” says Comras.
“This is the best important affair that I’m activity to do in my life. I’m advantageous because I accept a abutment arrangement at home. I had a lawyer. But Toni and I are accomplishing this for bodies who aren’t so advantageous and don’t accept the cloister process,” she adds.
Transurban now caps the judgement it seeks in cloister for first-time offenders to $2,200 additional cloister costs, and offers to abandon fees if the being resolves the botheration and works with Transurban from the outset.
But Cooley and Comras accept $2,200 additional cloister costs is still too much. They anticipate there are some accepted faculty solutions. They achievement assembly will carbon the applicative law in the 2016 session.
“We charge a added absolute ogue of abuse and offense. Is anniversary abuse an offense? Until you apperceive about a botheration with your E-ZPass, all the violations should according one breach with one authoritative fee and one civilian penalty,” says Cooley.
For example, Cooley accrued 11 contributed tolls trips accretion $11.10. Her aboriginal bill was for $12.50 in authoritative fees for anniversary trip, additional the aboriginal toll, or about $150. She says had the aboriginal bill been a distinct authoritative fee of $12.50, additional the aboriginal toll, or $33.60, she would’ve paid on the spot.
Cooley additionally thinks the cloister should alone administer one $50 civilian amends for a aboriginal set of violations, rather than 11 abstracted offenses accretion $8,800.
“You can acquaint who is a blackmailer and who had an innocent aberration with their E-ZPass. If you can appearance Transurban that you own an E-ZPass and that you’ve auspiciously paid afore and afterwards the problem, again they should apperceive you’re not a cheater,” says Cooley, pointing out that scofflaws apparently don’t own an E-ZPass.
Comras and Cooley will be affair with assembly this year to action admonition on how to rework the law to advance the process, while additionally alive with Transurban.
“We’re not adjoin to the Express Lanes. In fact, I still use the Express Lanes for my commute. Our advancement accumulation is not about bashing Transurban. We accept in a absolute bulletin attractive for absolute changes. We achievement Transurban would be accommodating to assignment with us and assembly on this issue,” says Cooley.
Transurban agent Mike McGurk responded in a statement.
“We do not appetite any Express Lanes adventurer to end up advantageous fees because of an contributed toll. For those who accomplish a mistake, every adventurer has an befalling to pay a absent assessment online with a $1.50 fee per contributed cruise aural the aboriginal bristles days. Afterwards that, every adventurer receives a apprehension with a $12.50 authoritative fee per contributed trip. As allotment of our First-Time Forgiveness program, we will abandon balance fees if the adventurer contacts us. Customer achievement is of the absolute accent to us and we animate any adventurer to acquaintance us appropriate abroad if they accept an balance or accept a question,” he writes.
Cooley won her case in Circuit Cloister in aboriginal April. Comras won a key accommodation a few weeks after to abandon a judgement adjoin her for about $11,000. She is due aback in cloister on May 18 aback the case adjoin her will acceptable get absolved based on the Cooley ruling.
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