The Harris County Toll Road Authority controls about 128 miles of roads in Houston. Due to heavy traffic congestion, many people choose to open an EZ TAG account to get to their destinations a bit quicker. However, even Houstonians without toll tags sometimes take toll roads when traffic comes to a grinding halt or they’re in a rush. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you’ll need to pay up when the time comes or face serious consequences.
Texas Toll Charges and Late Fees
Texans with a toll tag will be charged a $4 late fee each month they miss a payment. People who drive the toll roads without a toll tag will pay an elevated rate because their statements will need to be mailed to them. The additional cost for these drivers will be $1.15. Altogether, people without a toll tag will pay $5.15 for the late fee and statement fee. Try to avoid these charges by making payments each month.
In Houston, the fees will continue to accumulate if you don’t pay your outstanding toll bill. If the Harris County Toll Road authority doesn’t receive your payment within 45 days, your account will be referred to collections. At this point, you’ll also owe a $25 collection fee for every invoice that must be collected by a third-party debt collector.
Can I go to Jail?
Most times, you won’t be incarcerated for failure to pay tolls. If you have a couple of outstanding fines, you may just be barred from registering your vehicle. However, if you start to rack up the fines, you may be ordered to court to dispute your unpaid bill. If you miss your court date or still refuse to pay, you may face jail time at that point.
If you still haven’t paid your toll balance in Harris County after 60 days, and you’ve ignored collection efforts from the TRA and debt collectors, an administrative court hearing will be scheduled. You will also be billed an additional fee. If you don’t pay your bill within 31 days of your court hearing, you will not be allowed to register your vehicle in Texas. You still likely won’t be arrested, but every case is unique. However, you may face jail time for ignoring a court summons.
Missed Court Date
All of the toll fines you accrue in Texas probably won’t result in jail time– ever. However, missing your court date might! If you fail to appear in court after you receive a summons, the Houston municipal court may put out a warrant for your arrest. You could also be subject to steep fines and immediately be barred vehicle and license registration.
If you miss your court date, you should immediately contact the court, reschedule your hearing, document your contact with the courts, and request that they clear the warrant from your record. Should you take this route, you will need to post a bond to reschedule your court hearing. Alternatively, you can visit the Public Service Counter at the City of Houston Municipal Courts and pay your fine in full.
However, you don’t want to continue to ignore your court date. This essentially means you’re on the run, and if you get pulled over for a simple traffic violation the officer can make an arrest. Don’t let the fear of not being able to pay an outstanding toll bill get you in more trouble. Pay the bond, go to your next hearing, and make payment arrangements.
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