Toll skippers, beware cameras in Virginia

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Virginia’s new statewide toll violation-enforcement system now is working, but whether that’s good news or bad depends on what side of the law you are on. After extensive testing, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s new system will allow Smart Tag/E-ZPass users through the tolls faster; tollbooth gates no longer are needed in electronic toll lanes except for safety reasons.

The bad news is for violators: Cameras are taking photos of toll violators on the Powhite Parkway Extension in the Richmond area, the Dulles Toll Road in Northern Virginia and the Coleman Bridge in Hampton Roads. Notices sent to toll skippers state the violation date and include a photo of the offender’s license plate; violators must pay the toll plus a $25 administrative fee.

Notices can be appealed in cases of mistaken identity, or sold, stolen, leased or rented vehicles. To ensure drivers’ privacy, photos and records of violations will be purged within 30 days of settlement. Smart Tag/E-ZPass users should have no problems with the new system as long as their accounts are in good standing, according to the state DOT.