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DRIVETIME MAHATMA: State won't punish for unpaid tolls

by Frank Fellone | March 21, 2020 at 8:06 a.m.

O Great Arbiter of Motoring Matters: We recently completed a lengthy road trip out of state and were routed through several electronically monitored toll roads and bridges. It was no surprise to receive bills by mail, and they were paid forthwith. Could these charges be ignored without retribution or would the state of Arkansas cooperate in imposing penalties? What think you? -- Jennie

Dear Jennie: Thinking is our weak spot. Asking is our strength.

We asked Scott Hardin of the Department of Finance and Administration, knowing Arkansas is long part of a multi-state compact that allows states to cooperate in the matter of driving privileges and traffic violations.

That compact does not extend to tolls.

Hardin told us Arkansas would not impose any penalty in your toll scenario, Jennie. The state does not play a role in issuing or enforcing out-of-state toll violations.

This is of importance in The Mahatma household. A trip earlier this year to Florida resulted in a mailed toll bill of $4.

Should we pay it, or stay out of Florida for the rest of our lives?

Dear Mahatma: Do you know if escort vehicles and wide loads are exempt from the rules of the road? Twice lately I have seen escorts and large loads go sailing through red lights in Hope. There were no police directing traffic and the lights had been red for plenty of time for them to stop. -- C & E

Dear Folks: Chief Jay Thompson of the Arkansas Highway Police said oversize loads are not exempt from any traffic laws. When hauling a house or manufactured homes under a special permit, the law allows movers to safely direct, control and regulate traffic around those loads on public streets, highways or bridges.

But the movers may not stop traffic for three minutes or within 500 feet from the crest of a hill.

In our humble opinion, if red-light sailing is epidemic in Hope, a phone call to the Hope Police Department is in order.

On a matter relating to both driving and the pandemic, we wondered about driver's license testing by the Arkansas State Police. Because spring break is a traditional time for parents to take their teenagers for testing.

We have learned there is now an adjustment in conventional driver license testing.

Knowledge testing will be limited to State Police Troop headquarters. Check the agency website for locations. (Knowledge testing in the River Valley region of the state will be administered at 765 Hob Knob Road in Russellville.)

Testing agents will limit applicants to five at a time.

No skills testing will occur for conventional license applicants.

State police testing agents will use sterilizing wipes to clean computer keyboards after every test is completed.

No change at this time for commercial driver license applicants.

Operations will continue this way through March 27, at which time a reassessment will be made.

Let the teenage grumbling begin.

Metro on 03/21/2020


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