Originally posted at 10:17 p.m. June 23, 2014. Edited to clarify that the grace period is for first-time violations only.
Motorists who use an Orange County toll road, forgetting they can't pay cash anymore, will get a one-time break from penalties through Labor Day, as long as it's their first offense and they pay the toll within a month.
County Supervisor Todd Spitzer on Monday called on the Transportation Corridor Agency, which oversees the toll roads, to put a moratorium on fines for first-time offenders through Labor Day, and the agency agreed, according to Lisa Telles, the agency's chief communications officer.
Since the agency removed the cash-only booths, about 15,000 of the 250,000 motorists who use the toll roads each day have failed to pay, mostly likely because they didn't realize cash was no longer an option, Telles said.
Before going cash-less, about 87 percent of toll-road users had signed up with a prepaid account known as FasTrak that works by using a transponder.
Motorists now also have the option of registering credit card or billing information, and they can either pre-pay or receive a bill later. If motorists have not registered ahead of time, they can contact the agency within 48 hours and pay online with a credit card or through a cell phone application before receiving a citation. Motorists can call the agency, but the phone lines are busy and not the best way to get through in a timely manner, Telles said.
The waiver on the fine only applies to motorists who have not had a previous violation, and they must still pay the toll.
The agency has put up more signs alerting motorists they have to prepay or register to be billed if they use the 73, 133, 241 or 261 toll roads.
Part of the problem is Orange County draws many tourists and occasional visitors to the Southland, so local publicity may not have reached them, Telles said. Now if a motorist doesn't pay the first time they use an Orange County toll road through Labor Day they will receive a notice with information on how to sign up for the alternative payment methods.
--City News Service