Texas Transportation Code

Sec. § 370.177
Failure or Refusal to Pay Turnpike Project Toll; Offense; Administrative Penalty


(a)

Except as provided by Subsection (a-1), the operator of a vehicle, other than an authorized emergency vehicle as defined by Section 541.201 (Vehicles), that is driven or towed through a toll collection facility of a turnpike project shall pay the proper toll. The operator of a vehicle who drives or tows a vehicle through a toll collection facility and does not pay the proper toll commits an offense. An offense under this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $250. 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 an emergency vehicle.

(a-1)

Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the board may waive the requirement of the payment of a toll or may authorize the payment of a reduced toll for any vehicle or class of vehicles.

(b)

In the event of nonpayment of the proper toll as required by Subsection (a), on issuance of a written notice of nonpayment, the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle is liable for the payment of both the proper toll and an administrative fee.

(c)

The authority may impose and collect the administrative fee to recover the cost of collecting the unpaid toll, not to exceed $100. The authority shall send a written notice of nonpayment to the registered owner of the vehicle at that owner’s address as shown in the vehicle registration records of the department by first class mail not later than the 30th day after the date of the alleged failure to pay and may require payment not sooner than the 30th day after the date the notice was mailed. The registered owner shall pay a separate toll and administrative fee for each event of nonpayment under Subsection (a).

(d)

The registered owner of a vehicle for which the proper toll was not paid who is mailed a written notice of nonpayment under Subsection (c) and fails to pay the proper toll and administrative fee within the time specified by the notice of nonpayment commits an offense. Each failure to pay a toll or administrative fee under this subsection is a separate offense.

(e)

It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) or (d) that the registered owner of the vehicle is a lessor of the vehicle and not later than the 30th day after the date the notice of nonpayment is mailed provides to the authority:

(1)

a copy of the rental, lease, or other contract document covering the vehicle on the date of the nonpayment under Subsection (a), 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 of the nonpayment under Subsection (a).

(e-1)

If the lessor provides the required information within the period prescribed under Subsection (e), the authority may send a notice of nonpayment to the lessee at the address provided under Subsection (e) by first class mail before the 30th day after the date of receipt of the required information from the lessor. The lessee of the vehicle for which the proper toll was not paid who is mailed a written notice of nonpayment under this subsection and fails to pay the proper toll and administrative fee within the time specified by the notice of nonpayment commits an offense. The lessee shall pay a separate toll and administrative fee for each event of nonpayment. Each failure to pay a toll or administrative fee under this subsection is a separate offense.

(f)

It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) or (d) that the registered owner of the vehicle transferred ownership of the vehicle to another person before the event of nonpayment under Subsection (a) occurred, submitted written notice of the transfer to the department in accordance with Section 501.147 (Vehicle Transfer Notification), and before the 30th day after the date the notice of nonpayment is mailed, provides to the authority the name and address of the person to whom the vehicle was transferred. If the former owner of the vehicle provides the required information within the period prescribed, the authority may send a notice of nonpayment to the person to whom ownership of the vehicle was transferred at the address provided by the former owner by first class mail before the 30th day after the date of receipt of the required information from the former owner. The subsequent owner of the vehicle for which the proper toll was not paid who is mailed a written notice of nonpayment under this subsection and fails to pay the proper toll and administrative fee within the time specified by the notice of nonpayment commits an offense. The subsequent owner shall pay a separate toll and administrative fee for each event of nonpayment under Subsection (a). Each failure to pay a toll or administrative fee under this subsection is a separate offense.

(g)

An offense under Subsection (d), (e-1), or (f) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $250.

(h)

The court in which a person is convicted of an offense under this section shall also collect the proper toll and administrative fee and forward the toll and fee to the authority.

(i)

In the prosecution of an offense under this section, proof that the vehicle passed through a toll collection facility without payment of the proper toll together with proof that the defendant was the registered owner or the driver of the vehicle when the failure to pay occurred, 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:

(1)

evidence obtained by automated enforcement technology that the authority determines is necessary, including automated enforcement technology described by Sections 228.058 (Automated Enforcement Technology)(a) and (b); or

(2)

a copy of the rental, lease, or other contract document or the electronic data provided to the authority under Subsection (e) that shows the defendant was the lessee of the vehicle when the underlying event of nonpayment occurred.

(j)

It is a defense to prosecution 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.

(k)

In this section, “registered owner” means the owner of a vehicle as shown on the vehicle registration records of the department or the analogous department or agency of another state or country.

(l)

In addition to the other powers and duties provided by this chapter, with regard to its toll collection and enforcement powers for its turnpike projects or other toll projects developed, financed, constructed, and operated under an agreement with the authority or another entity, 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 tollway authority under Chapter 366 (Regional Tollway Authorities).

(m)

Information collected for the purposes of this section, including contact, payment, and other account information and trip data, is confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code.

(n)

As authorized under Section 322.008 (Provision of Information in Writing; Presentation of Records)(d)(2), Business & Commerce Code, an authority may provide an invoice or notice required under this section to be sent by 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 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1325, Sec. 2.01, eff. June 21, 2003.
Amended by:
Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 23 (S.B. 129), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2005.
Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 281 (H.B. 2702), Sec. 2.70, eff. June 14, 2005.
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 258 (S.B. 11), Sec. 4.04, eff. September 1, 2007.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 918 (H.B. 2983), Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1279 (H.B. 1112), Sec. 11, eff. June 17, 2011.
Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 161 (S.B. 1093), Sec. 20.004, eff. September 1, 2013.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1129 (S.B. 57), Sec. 3, eff. June 19, 2015.
Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 990 (S.B. 1311), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2019.
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Last accessed
Jun. 7, 2021