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Toll scofflaw fines may be cut
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/11/2008 12:06 AM

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As the Illinois tollway continues to send out thousands of severely backlogged toll violation notices, a second suburban lawmaker has vowed to push for reforms.

State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, an Elmhurst Republican, introduced a measure Thursday to force tollway officials to cut fines charged to toll scofflaws and limit the length of time it takes to get fines in the mail to 30 days.

The measure is similar to reform attempts by state Rep. Paul Froehlich, a Schaumburg Republican. That plan sits in limbo as tollway officials refuse to sign off on it.

In the coming weeks, Reboletti said he is hoping to have hearings on the tollway's violation system, which was the target of a Daily Herald investigation earlier this year.

The investigation revealed that a contracting fumble led to a 13-month gap in the tollway's ability to mail out violation notices to tens of thousands of motorists -- leading some to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in fines that had to be paid within weeks, in full. Unpaid fines could cost drivers their license.

Reboletti said he has received numerous phone calls from constituents angry about the delay in notices and other alleged problems wit the system.

"There has just been so many problems," he said.

The Daily Herald investigation also found:

• Toll enforcement cameras have trouble reading as many as 25 percent of Illinois license plates.

• A majority of cases appealed to the Illinois secretary of state have been thrown out, mostly because of flaws in how the tollway notifies alleged violators.

• Illinois toll cheats are punished far more harshly than out-of-state scofflaws because drivers who live elsewhere are not subject to losing their driver's license or license plates.

• The violation computer system was so dysfunctional, tollway officials had no idea how many people are cheating on tolls or how much money is owed.

It remains unclear whether the tollway amnesty measure filed Thursday will gain broad support.

Tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis declined to comment on the new proposal.