Houston driver upset after learning unmanned toll booths are not free


by Ron Trevino / 11 News


Posted on March 21, 2011 at 7:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 22 at 10:24 AM

HOUSTON -- A Houston-area man is upset with a violation notice he recently got from the Harris County Toll Road Authority.


The Toll Road Authority claims Ruben Cantu owes them after three electronic toll violations, which took place when he used the toll road after hours.

"I was in shock," said Cantu.

Cantu said the toll exit on the Sam Houston Tollway at West Road was unmanned, and the arm was up.

"There's almost accidents because people are stopping and slamming their brakes, honking at you to move on, there's no option to pay, there's no basket , no way to leave money,” he said.

The letter says it happened three times, and with administrative fees added on, Cantu now owes more than $35. But he says it's not his fault.

"The arm is up, giving the indication that it's free or something, " Cantu said.

"Just because the arm is open, it's not free," said Eric Hanson, a spokesperson for the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Signs are posted indicating when the exit is open, only for EZ Tag users. But, toll road officials said it's easy to accidentally use a tollway, so they don't issue violation notices the first time it happens, or even the second time.

"But by the third time, you should know by then, it's no accident if you've done it three times," said Hanson.

He also said if you accidentally use the toll road without paying, you've got 72 hours to pay without risking a penalty -- just call the Harris County Toll Road Authority at 281-875-3279.  You can also drive by an EZ Tag Store and pay.

If you get a violation notice in the mail, you can have the administrative fees waived if you sign up for an EZ Tag.