Ray Villeda, NBC 5 News
The North Texas Tollway Authority has filed lawsuits against approximately 75 drivers who owe unpaid toll bills.
The North Texas Tollway Authority is filing lawsuits against drivers with unpaid toll bills.
As of the end of February, attorneys have filed approximately 75 lawsuits against violators who owe unpaid tolls and fines, the agency said.
The NTTA said it was in the beginning stages and expects to the number of lawsuits to "significantly" increase.
"The decision to file is based on whether filing a lawsuit is in the NTTA's best financial interest," the agency said in a statement.
Many drivers aren't happy that the NTTA is taking people to court.
"Maybe it would be justified if they were on the ball, getting their bills on time," said Eric Domuret of Houston. "The fact that they are taking people to court when they can't stay on the ball upsets me. Probably makes things easier for them; taking us to court seems backhanded to me."
Domuret said he's gotten a second late notice on more than one occasion after never receiving a first bill.
"It's ridiculous," he said.
The move is the agency's latest effort to collect unpaid tolls.
Last year, the NTTA began posting a list of its top toll violators. Since the list's inception in July, the agency has collected $2.8 million from 12,808 people who paid in full or made payment agreements.
As of March 1, the list contains nearly 25,000 names. It can be found on the NTTA's website.
According to the list of top 100 toll violators, the top 100 collectively owe millions in unpaid fines and fees. As of March 1, each person on the list owes more than $78,000.
The top 100 toll violators list names Melissa S. Martinez, of Sachse, as the top violator with $153,000 in unpaid tolls and fees.
The NTTA referred 6,000 randomly chosen offenders from the top toll violators list to six different law firms last fall.
"Firms have been contacting and, in some cases, negotiating with people assigned to them," the NTTA said in a statement.
In a list of the referred names on its website, the NTTA said that all of the violators had accumulated more than 100 unpaid tolls, received more than 16 invoices and had cycled through more than 180 days of requests for payment.
The list of drivers that were referred to attorneys can be found on the NTTA's website.
The agency is encouraging those contacted by law firms to work out a settlement.
Everyone on the list should contact the NTTA to resolve their outstanding tolls, the agency said.
Toll violators are also subject to criminal citations, the NTTA said.
The NTTA said it is currently asking the state Legislature to block the vehicle registration for an owner who has a significant amount of outstanding tolls.
NBC 5's Ray Villeda contributed to this report.