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No 520 Bill Not An Excuse for Not Paying Tolls

Didn't get a bill for your toll to cross the State Route 520 Bridge? Not an excuse, the Washington State Department of Transportation told the Seattle Times. Has this ever happened to you? What do you think?

So, you never got a bill in the mail for crossing the State Route 520 Bridge during tolling hours?

That's no excuse to not pay the tolls, the Washington State Department of Transportation told the Seattle Times, who profiled a Mukilteo woman who had to pay $50 for one trip across the State Route 520 Bridge.

She had been waiting for the bill in the mail, but finally got a notice that included the original tolls and fees, plus a $40 fine, according to the article.

Lucinda Broussard, toll operations manager for the Washington Department of Transportation, told Seattle Times reporter Danny Westneat that the bill is a "courtesy notice," and that it is the driver's responsibility to follow up and pay the toll, or risk a fine.

There are no toll booths on the bridge and 520 bridge tolls are paid electronically, either through a pre-paid Good to Go transponder installed in a car, or over mail after cameras record the vehicle's license plate. 

However, according to the state registered vehicle owners are responsible for the toll whether they were driving and whether they received a bill.

That means, you have to follow up and pay no matter who was behind the wheel (as one ), and if you never got the bill in the mail.

As quoted from the tolling violations page:

Can I get my toll charges reduced? 
A judge cannot reduce the penalty amount; they can only require payment or dismiss the toll charge. Registered vehicle owners are responsible for paying tolls and the civil penalty whether or not they were driving and whether or not they received a toll bill. 

Drivers can appeal if they believe that there was a system error, because the car was sold or stolen during the crossing, or if you are not the registered owner of the vehicle. Not getting a bill is specifically mentioned by the state as not a reason to appeal the fine.

What's been your experience with the State Route 520 tolls? What do you think of the state's billing rule? Tell us in the comments.

Online

Seattle Times: State turns a 520 bridge toll bill into paradox

Venice Buhain October 14, 2012 at 08:35 PM
A comment from Facebook: Jennifer Harkins Garone: No way to sugar coat this, it's pure BS.
Andy A. October 14, 2012 at 09:15 PM
This doesn't seem right.
Jeanne Gustafson October 14, 2012 at 10:58 PM
On appearances, it seems WSDOT has it both ways. On the web site, it states: "Before you recieve a notice of civil penalty you should have recieved [sic] two toll bills, one within 15 days of traveling and another approximately 30 days after traveling," later saying the driver is responsible for the toll and penalty even if a bill is not received. I'm guessing that the spirit of this notation is intended to account for drivers whose registration is out of date, not for those who live at the address where their vehicle is registered.
David October 15, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Just don't use 520 for crossing Lake Washington. It is worth the few minutes extra travel time to take I-90 or go around the lake.
Catherine Wittel October 15, 2012 at 02:26 PM
I think David has a good point. You know there is a toll and the amount you need to pay is in lights right in front of you as you cross the bridge. Take the I-90 . I wouldn't have liked it either, but I also didn't like it about 30 years ago when I didn't get a bill from the natural gas company, but I did get my gas turned off when I didn't pay it. I didn't think that was so funny at the time.
Jme Thomas October 15, 2012 at 03:21 PM
i have been billed separately although i DO have the pass AND a current credit card on file. when i called to ask why i am being billed, their phone hung up repeatedly. trying online and i have received generic statements about how to pay the bill or how to get a pass- but none have addressed the fact that i already have the pass and have a current card on file. i am beyond annoyed that i have changed nothing, and yet suddenly this pass for me has stopped working and i am being charged the regular rate besides.
Alex Jacobson October 15, 2012 at 03:43 PM
State racket.
cassarooni October 15, 2012 at 05:32 PM
If I go to the hospital (or use other billable services) and never get billed (because one was never generated) the WAC says that after a certain number of months the ability to collect is null and void. If the state is imposing a toll and not allowing drivers to pay as they cross (like the ferry system) then it is the state'sburden to bill. Otherwise, by definition, it's a TAX and not a toll.
Richard Watson October 15, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I have the censor in my car. I went down and back on HWY 167 three times. I had two people in the car and they billed me for 6 trips. I called and protested. They said that they didn't have the equipment to tell how many people were in the car. (how is that my fault?) Then they said you can only have one refund in your life. Then they went on to say I couldn't even have that because I didn't complain until 90 days after. (my wife handles this account and I didn't notice it right away)
dorimonsonfan October 15, 2012 at 07:49 PM
@David - Depending on your car's gas milage and when you are crossing it often is worth it to pay the toll. If you have a dodge durango that gets 12 miles per gallon the cost of adding 6 additional miles to a trip is $2.00 with gas currently costing $4.00 per gallon. The last time I crossed 520 the toll was $1.69
Venice Buhain October 15, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Richard, I've never taken SR 167's HOV/Toll lane because I'm confused about the way that lane is supposed to work.
bigyaz October 15, 2012 at 09:10 PM
From Bellevue, maybe. From Kirkland or Redmond it is seldom just a few minutes extra travel time, particuarly if you're going to the UW, Seattle Center, etc. Going around the lake is almost always significantly slower. Even when you reach I-5 southbound you run into significant slowdowns at the Ship Canal Bridge. Get the transponder. Mine has worked flawlessly since tolling started. No hassle, and it pays for itself quickly.
Jeanne Gustafson October 15, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I'm happy to pay a legitimate bill, but if you don't want to sign up for the Pass and have it automatically charged, I can easily see how it would be difficult to know how much to pay, since the rates are different depending on the hour. I haven't personally used the bridge since the toll was instituted, since I didn't use it much before, so I wonder, does it tell you what the current rate is as you are crossing? If not, how would you know for sure what you owe with no billing, and in any case how would you know it's overdue with no billing? If you cross a bridge that says it's toll by mail, are you obligated to go to the website to see how much you owe and where to send a check?
Jason F. October 15, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Seriously!? What's next? Oh I ran a pretty yellow/red light the other day, excuse me while I right myself a ticket and send in the payment. If you don't get a ticket asking to pay, it's free. Seriously. This is what's wrong with government bozo's. Absolute idiots. The 520 debacle is a DISASTER so they will say anything to try to sugar coat this mess.
Venice Buhain October 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Jeanne, there is an electronic sign that tells you how much the toll is at the time you cross. The state says on its website that motorists should call them (1-866-936-8246) if you haven't received a toll bill 14 days after crossing the SR 520 or Tacoma Narrows bridges. And according to them, yes it is your responsibility. Though I can see how that kind of thing can slip between the cracks (for instance, you loaned your car to someone else and they didn't tell you, you didn't see the bill for whatever reason).
dorimonsonfan October 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Jeanne, It does diplay the current toll rate on a big bright reader board as you cross the bridge. It does not display the address of where to send the check however. Maybe wsdot should make a big huge sign of where to send it to avoid any billing disputes.
jimu October 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM
If we apply this same logic, we can assume that if we have a transponder and the State for some reason forgets to charge our trip, we could unknowingly rack up a bunch of fees because we should have known to pay them. And it's ridiculous that Richard Watson, who posted above, can't ride in the carpool lane with a car full of people because his transponder will get charged. When is enough is enough? The State works for us, not the other way around.
Liz Mork October 20, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Also just a note, you cannot pay your tolls online until you receive a bill. You need the "Notice Number" which is listed on the paper bill if you don't have an account. So I am not sure how we can take responsibility unless we all call WSDOT and ask if they have our toll bill ready? I bought my Good To Go Pass to avoid waiting for a bill.
Ryan Graves December 21, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I have started a petition to enact change in the Billing & Customer Service policies for the WA State Department of Transportation "Good To Go" 520 Bridge Tolling program. If you would like to read and sign the petition, I'd be grateful. Please check out the link and sign if you would like to support: https://www.change.org/petitions/good-to-go-washington-state-department-of-transportation-change-billing-customer-service-policies-automatic-updating-of-addresses

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