Toll road tag confusion leads to fines

June 9, 2010 4:09:12 PM PDT
You may not know it, but your EZ Tag will work on all the toll roads across the state and toll tags from the Dallas and Austin area will work on the Harris County toll road system. That's because the tolling authorities have agreed to recognize each other's tags. But some who own TxTags are finding they need to take an extra step to avoid potential fines. Chances are you know about the EZ Tag, but TxTags are becoming popular as well. To use a TxTag on Harris County toll roads you have to make sure your car's license plate is registered. It may sound simple but TxTag does not require the registration in all cases and it's leading to fines for some drivers.

If you do not have a current EZ Tag account and go through the EZ Tag lanes you can expect a fine, but a handful of drivers who have a TxTag are also getting a fine.

TxTag owner Karen Kaser said, "In the instructions, it says you can use it on all the toll roads in Texas - the TxTag, the EZ Tag and Dallas has a tag, too."

Kaser and her husband both have a TxTag in their cars. It is issued by the Texas Department of Transportation and is supposed to work on all toll roads in Texas.

She said, "We had to pay almost a $40 fine when we thought we were doing everything the right way."

Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) officials say occasionally their EZ Tag readers do not receive the information from windshield mounted tag. When that happens, the agency tracks down the account by using a car's license plate. But the Kasers' license plate was not on file.

HCTRA spokesperson Lawanda Howse explained, "He had a TxTag and he did not have his license plate registered in the system. So we had no reference point. So because his tag didn't read, we had no reference point to say that he did have a tag."

In turns out TxTag does not require license plate registration for use within its own system of toll roads, but drivers who are using a TxTag on toll roads in Harris County must take the extra step of registering their license plates. Otherwise, if a TxTag-equipped car passes through an EZ Tag reader and a problem occurs, the driver will be fined.

"You have to have a tag. You have to have an account in good standing, and you have to have your license plate registered," Howse said. "If you don't have any of those three things, we don't consider you as being interoperable, meaning you can't use our system with your tag."

TxTag officials say they have about 60,000 accounts statewide that do not have license plate information on file and potentially those drivers could be fined by HCTRA if the TxTag is not read properly by the EZ tag equipment.

TxTag registration is free and can be done online. It can keep you from getting a fine of more than $30. TxTags are also sold at AAA offices around the area and about 20,000 people have them in our area.


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