Washington drivers would experience improved customer service and a reduction in unnecessary fines after the Senate unanimously approved Sen. Andy Hill’s bill to revamp toll notification, customer service, address technology gaps and establish a one-time toll penalty amnesty program.
“I’ve heard from many people in my community about the frustration and confusion of navigating the toll billing process,” said Hill, of Redmond. “Upgrading the quality of customer service protects drivers from hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees they may not have even been aware of due to technology problems.”
Recent news stories and constituent cases led Hill to develop his plan, which would require the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to email drivers during the 80 days before an unpaid toll became a civil penalty and follow up by phone with those that provide a contact number within five days prior to issuing a notice of civil penalty.
“This is about shifting the burden of responsibility back onto the billing system,” added Hill. “Government should be working for you. You don’t work for government.”
Technology problems would also be addressed by ensuring the Department of Licensing and WSDOT can seamlessly share updated customer records. Additionally, WSDOT would need to create a mobile phone application where drivers could manage toll accounts. WSDOT customer service agents would also gain the authority to correct errors that led to drivers not receiving notice if the balance owed was less than $100.
WSDOT testified in support of the legislation when the bill was heard in the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill is now sent to the House of Representatives for its consideration.