SEATTLE – Drivers who ignored notices for unpaid tolls on the State Route 520 or Tacoma Narrows bridges may find that they are unable to renew their vehicle registration. The Washington State Department of Transportation has provided the Department of Licensing with approximately 7,900 holds for vehicles. This week, the first round of renewal notices listing unpaid toll violations that will prevent drivers from renewing their registration will arrive in mailboxes.
The DOL will keep the registration holds in place until all tolls, accrued fees and penalties are paid.
“We issued the first civil penalties in April, and now we’re taking one of the final steps to enforce tolls fairly,” said WSDOT Toll Division Director Craig Stone. “Most drivers pay their tolls on time, but these are the consequences for those who don’t.”
Owners of vehicles with registrations that expire in December will receive the first renewal notices from DOL with holds resulting from unpaid notices of civil penalties. Drivers with unpaid civil penalties will not be able to renew their registration until they resolve the violations.
“Even after 100 days, drivers could still make good on their toll and pay their civil penalty so they can renew their tabs,” Stone said. “Procrastinating on paying the toll only adds cost and complexity.”
Vehicle owners can contact the Good To Go! customer service center to settle unpaid tolls or to check if they have a vehicle registration hold. DOL will notify vehicle owners of any registration holds via renewal notices or when owners attempt to renew their tabs.
Vehicle registration holds are only put in place after other attempts to collect tolls have been exhausted. The registered owner of a vehicle receives a toll bill in the mail about 14 days after crossing the bridge. Drivers who don’t pay their first toll bill within 15 days of receiving the bill receive a second notice with a $5 reprocessing fee. Civil penalty notices with a $40 per transaction penalty are issued more than 80 days after the bridge crossing. Registered vehicle owners have up to 20 days to respond to WSDOT with payment or to dispute the civil penalty. WSDOT only notifies DOL to place a vehicle registration hold when the violations remain unpaid.
Placing holds on vehicle registrations is nothing new for DOL. Currently, 156 agencies across the state use registration holds to enforce unpaid bills.
WSDOT suggests that all vehicle owners take the following steps to avoid a registration hold:
- Avoid the civil-penalty process. Contact the customer service center if you haven’t seen a bill in the mail two weeks after your vehicle crossed one of the bridges.
- Follow the appropriate steps with DOL for buying or selling a vehicle. Vehicle owners who do not properly transfer ownership and who do not ensure the buyer registers the vehicle in their name risk receiving a toll bill or civil penalty because they are still the vehicle’s registered owner.
- Do not ignore a toll bill, even if you have established a Good To Go! account. Calling customer service can save time and money in the long run.
- Maintaining an active Good To Go! account is still the most efficient and cost-effective means of traveling on tolled roads in Washington state.