Governor Raimondo signs bill cracking down on Pell Bridge toll violators and evaders

Govenor Gina Raimondo has signed legislation introduced by House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton) to redefine “toll violators” and “toll evaders.”

The law (2019-H 58742019-S 0781A) reduces the number of infractions for a person to be considered a “toll violator” from 20 to 10. The act also reduces the number of infractions for a person to be considered a “toll evader” from one 100 to 20.

“When drivers rack up that many toll violations, it becomes unfair to everyone else who diligently pays the tolls every time they go over a tolled bridge,” said Representative Edwards in a prepared statement. “It unfairly shifts the financial burden of maintaining those bridges to other users. And we owe it to taxpayers to see that those projects are funded in a fair and equitable manner.”

Toll violators are reported to the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles. The violators cannot renew their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations until any unpaid toll amounts, administrative fees, and fines are paid to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

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Toll evaders may receive a traffic violation summons to the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, which may suspend the toll evader’s driver’s license for up to six months and assess a fine of up to $500, or both.

“When you have electronic tolling, such as E-Z Pass, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have toll violators,” said Senator DiPalma in the statement. “For those few who don’t take the bridge tolls seriously, this legislation will give us a way to get their attention, and let them know that they’re going to be expected to pay the same as everyone else.”

According to Tim White at WPRI, “Drivers going over the Newport Pell Bridge have racked up $9.6 million in unpaid tolls plus fees and fines over the last six years. Read his full story here – Millions in free rides on Newport Pell Bridge since gateless tolling began

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