PA Man Stiffs Toll Authority, Held Accountable For Nearly $128,000 In Skipped Tolls
Human beings can be stubbornly defiant creatures. Yet, for the most part, there are certain societal practices we abide by to look after our safety and the general order and well-being of the social constructs we are a part of.
Working smoke alarms increase our chances of survival in a fire by 50%, so we make sure they’re checked in our homes. At restaurants, we pay for our meals. We abide by traffic laws in the name of safety in the face of chaos and pay the pied piper when infractions are made. The errant individuals who exist outside of these social constructs may escape consequences for a while, but they almost always catch up with them. Eventually.
Pennsylvania resident Jarrett Stiff recently learned that consequences are not to be ignored. Stiff stiffed the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission between the years of 2012 and 2017 where he failed to pay for his trips a record-breaking 2,264 times. Shattering the second place delinquent who owed $66,552.45 in fees and fines, Stiff racked up an impressive tab that topped out at $127,967.40.
Until he was caught. You can imagine how thrilled the Turnpike Commission was when they finally got him. The American commuter wastes about 42 hours per year in traffic, burning about $1,400 in gasoline. Stiff? His reckless commutes ended up getting him stuck with having to pay $11,504 in penalties. Beginning with a $3,500 down payment, he’s set to pay $275 per month for the next three years with five years of probation to boot.
“Individuals are committing this offense thinking there are no repercussions for it. There are hardworking taxpayers who pay their fair share. Individuals should be held accountable,” said Jovin Jose, the DA who prosecuted Stiff’s case.
The PA Turnpike Commission has apparently had a problem with people skipping out on paying their tolls for quite a while now. Most businesses cite tech development as their number one concern, but the PA Turnpike Commission had a human problem. And a big one, too. They discovered back in 2016 that they were owed $33.5 million in unpaid E-Z Pass tolls. This made them start addressing the problem by pursuing felony charges against toll skippers who owed more than $2,000. Naturally, Stiff was one of the first targeted. And, honestly, $11,504 may seem like a lot, but it’s paltry in comparison to his nearly $128,000 owed balance.
Of course, this is a work in progress that the authority has admitted will never find a complete resolution. A study showed 82% of businesses fail due to cash flow problems. Fortunately, the governing body of the Department of Transportation is too big to fail because of missing tolls, but the loss is still massive. In 2017 alone, the PA Turnpike Commission reported giving up on pursuing more than $7.6 million in unpaid tolls. Talk about cash flow problems.
Since December 2017, they’ve charged 526 people with toll evasion. How many will continue to get away with it? More than authorities have the personnel to deal with.