Texas Transportation Code

Sec. § 366.178
Failure or Refusal to Pay Toll


(a)

A motor vehicle other than an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined by Section 541.201 (Vehicles), that passes through a toll assessment facility, whether driven or towed, shall pay the proper toll. The exemption from payment of a toll for an authorized emergency vehicle applies regardless of whether the vehicle is:

(1)

responding to an emergency;

(2)

displaying a flashing light; or

(3)

marked as a police or emergency vehicle.

(b)

A person who fails or refuses to pay a toll provided for the use of a project is liable for a fine not to exceed $250, plus any administrative fees incurred in connection with the violation.

(b-1)

As an alternative to requiring payment of a toll at the time a vehicle is driven or towed through a toll assessment facility, the authority shall use video recordings, photography, electronic data, transponders, or other tolling methods to permit the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle to pay the toll at a later date or provide toll exemptions. Information collected under this subsection, including contact, payment, and other account information and trip data, is confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code.

(b-2)

If the authority does not collect the proper toll at the time a vehicle is driven or towed through a toll assessment facility, the authority shall send an invoice by first class mail to the registered owner of the vehicle. The invoice may include one or more tolls assessed by the authority for use of the project by the nonpaying vehicle and must specify the date by which the toll or tolls must be paid. Except as provided by Subsection (b-3), the registered owner shall pay the unpaid tolls included in the invoice not later than the 25th day after the date the invoice is mailed.

(b-3)

If the address to which the invoice issued under Subsection (b-2) is mailed to the registered owner is determined to be incorrect, the registered owner shall pay the invoice not later than the 25th day after the date the invoice is mailed to the correct address.

(b-4)

If the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle fails to pay the unpaid tolls included in the invoice mailed under Subsection (b-2) or (b-3) by the date specified in the invoice, the authority shall send the first notice of nonpayment by first class mail to the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle as provided by Subsection (d).

(c)

On issuance of the first notice of nonpayment, the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle shall pay both the unpaid tolls included in the invoice and an administrative fee. The authority may charge only one administrative fee of not more than $25 for the first notice of nonpayment that is sent to the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle.

(d)

Unless an authority requires additional time to send a notice of nonpayment because of events outside the authority’s reasonable control, the authority shall send the first notice of nonpayment not later than the 30th day after the date the 25-day period expires for the registered owner to pay the invoice issued under Subsection (b-2) or (b-3). If an authority requires additional time as provided by this subsection, the authority must send the notice not later than the 60th day after the date the 25-day period expires for the registered owner to pay the invoice issued under Subsection (b-2) or (b-3). The first notice of nonpayment shall require payment of the unpaid tolls included in the invoice and the administrative fee before the 25th day after the date the first notice of nonpayment is mailed.

(d-1)

If the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle fails to pay the unpaid tolls and the administrative fee by the date specified in the first notice of nonpayment, the authority shall send a second notice of nonpayment by first class mail to the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle. The second notice of nonpayment must specify the date by which payment must be made and may require payment of:

(1)

the unpaid tolls and administrative fee included in the first notice of nonpayment; and

(2)

an additional administrative fee of not more than $25 for each unpaid toll included in the notice, not to exceed a total of $200.

(d-2)

If the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle fails to pay the amount included in the second notice of nonpayment by the date specified in that notice, the authority shall send a third notice of nonpayment by first class mail to the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle. The third notice of nonpayment must specify the date by which payment must be made and may require payment of:

(1)

the amount included in the second notice of nonpayment; and

(2)

any third-party collection service fees incurred by the authority.

(e)

If the registered owner of the vehicle fails to pay the amount included in the third notice of nonpayment by the date specified in the notice, the owner may be cited as for other traffic violations as provided by law, and the owner shall pay a fine of not more than $250 for each nonpayment of a toll.

(f)

Except as provided by Subsection (f-1), in the prosecution of a violation for nonpayment, proof that the vehicle passed through a toll assessment facility and that the amount included in the third notice of nonpayment was not paid before the date specified in the notice, together with proof that the defendant was the registered owner or the driver of the vehicle when the unpaid toll was assessed, establishes the nonpayment of the registered owner. The proof may be by testimony of a peace officer or authority employee, video surveillance, or any other reasonable evidence, including a copy of the rental, lease, or other contract document or the electronic data provided to the authority under Subsection (i) that shows the defendant was the lessee of the vehicle when the unpaid toll was assessed.

(f-1)

Nonpayment by the registered owner of the vehicle may be established by:

(1)

a copy of a written agreement between the authority and the registered owner for the payment of unpaid tolls and administrative fees; and

(2)

evidence that the registered owner is in default under the agreement.

(g)

The court of the local jurisdiction in which the unpaid toll was assessed may assess and collect the fine in addition to any court costs. The court may collect and forward to the authority properly assessed unpaid tolls, administrative fees, and third-party collection service fees incurred by the authority as determined by:

(1)

the court after a hearing; or

(2)

written agreement of the registered owner.

(h)

It is a defense to nonpayment under this section that the motor vehicle in question was stolen before the failure to pay the proper toll occurred and was not recovered by the time of the failure to pay, but only if the theft was reported to the appropriate law enforcement authority before the earlier of:

(1)

the occurrence of the failure to pay; or

(2)

eight hours after the discovery of the theft.

(i)

A registered owner who is the lessor of a vehicle for which an invoice is mailed under Subsection (b-2) or (b-3) is not liable if, not later than the 30th day after the date the invoice is mailed, the registered owner provides to the authority:

(1)

a copy of the rental, lease, or other contract document covering the vehicle on the date the unpaid toll was assessed, with the name and address of the lessee clearly legible; or

(2)

electronic data, other than a photocopy or scan of a rental or lease contract, that contains the information required under Sections 521.460 (Motor Vehicle Rentals)(c)(1), (2), and (3) covering the vehicle on the date the unpaid toll was assessed under this section.

(i-1)

If the lessor timely provides the required information under Subsection (i), the lessee of the vehicle on the date the unpaid toll was assessed is considered to be the registered owner of the vehicle for purposes of this section, and the authority shall follow the procedures provided by this section as if the lessee were the registered owner of the vehicle, including sending an invoice to the lessee by first-class mail not later than the 30th day after the date of the receipt of the information from the lessor.

(j)

In addition to the other powers and duties provided by this chapter, an authority has the same powers and duties as the department under Chapter 228 (State Highway Toll Projects), a county under Chapter 284 (Causeways, Bridges, Tunnels, Turnpikes, Ferries, and Highways in Certain Counties), and a regional mobility authority under Chapter 370 (Regional Mobility Authorities), regarding the authority’s toll collection and enforcement powers for:

(1)

the authority’s turnpike projects; and

(2)

other toll projects developed, financed, constructed, or operated under an agreement, including a comprehensive development agreement, with the authority.

(k)

As authorized under Section 322.008 (Provision of Information in Writing; Presentation of Records)(d)(2), Business & Commerce Code, an authority may provide information, including an invoice or notice, required under this section to be sent first class mail instead as an electronic record:

(1)

if the recipient of the information agrees to the transmission of the information as an electronic record; and

(2)

on terms acceptable to the recipient.
Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1171, Sec. 7.24, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
Amended by:
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 258 (S.B. 11), Sec. 4.03, eff. September 1, 2007.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 770 (S.B. 882), Sec. 1, eff. June 19, 2009.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 918 (H.B. 2983), Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1216 (S.B. 469), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2011.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 782 (H.B. 2549), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2015.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1129 (S.B. 57), Sec. 1, eff. June 19, 2015.
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Jun. 7, 2021