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Thursday, July 31, 2014, 11:15 a.m.
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Texas toll violators could have vehicles impounded

By The Associated Press

This article was published March 22, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.

— Texas law enforcement agencies are joining the effort to make toll-road scofflaws pay up.

The Texas Department of Transportation plans to partner with authorities to impound vehicles of those who have run up at least 100 toll violations within a year but continue to drive the tollways, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

A Williamson County constable's office in Round Rock is the only law enforcement agency so far to sign a contract with TxDOT. However, TxDOT will pursue contracts with other agencies, agency spokeswoman Veronica Beyer told the newspaper Friday.

"Not paying tolls is effectively stealing from the taxpayers of Texas," said James Bass, TxDOT interim executive director.

The plan needs final approval from the state Transportation Commission next week.

In Williamson County, deputy constables would be posted on Williamson County's two toll roads, Texas 45 and Texas 130, armed with the license plate numbers of frequent toll violators and the times when they usually violate, said Chief Deputy Robert Woodring of the Williamson County Precinct 1 Constable's Office.

The first time they're caught, the driver will receive a citation, Woodring said. The second time, the driver's car will be towed and impounded, he said.

First, though, TxDOT must declare the driver a "habitual" violator, which the driver can contest in court. Then, the Texas Transportation Commission must issue an order banning the vehicle from the state's toll roads.

"I'm the last attempt," Woodring said.

Under their contract, Williamson County will bill TxDOT to pay the deputies to work the toll-road stakeouts on overtime. The contract, which runs through January 2019, is worth $173,784, according to county documents examined by the American-Statesman.

Not everyone is sold on the plan, however.

"If TxDOT pays an officer to, say, sit down at (Texas) 130 and (FM) 685 at this toll gate, from the hours of 5 to 7, and watch for this car with this license plate -- well, once the public finds that out, it doesn't take a rocket scientist too long to figure out that they'll probably get on the tollway somewhere else," said Chief Deputy Mark Birchard of the Williamson County Precinct 4 Constable's Office in Taylor.

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