What Happens if You Get a Toll Fee From Out of State?

Consider these tips for paying tolls when traveling in other states.

Nick Kurczewski | 
Jan 31, 2023 | 3 min read

Woman opens mail and reads bill in kitchenGetty Images

Toll roads are a daily routine for many drivers, but questions can arise when travel plans involve crossing state lines and encountering unfamiliar toll systems. The good news is that large swaths of the U.S. operate on toll systems that work from state to state. One of the nation’s largest is E-Z Pass, which presently covers 18 states and stretches from Maine to Florida, and as far west as Illinois and Minnesota.

But not every state has the same form of toll collection system or vehicle transponder. This can make especially long road trips more complicated, as you could encounter a handful (or more) of different tolling methods during a single drive.

So what happens if you get a toll from out of state? If you believe you were charged in error, is there any recourse to dispute the charge?

Forms of tolls around the U.S.

There are approximately 16 different toll systems/passes in effect across the U.S. While some are used in multiple states, others are limited to perhaps one or two states. Drivers in Texas, for example, may use a TxTag toll transponder—Oklahoma’s Pikepass and Kansas’ K-Pass transponders are also accepted.

With the rise of automated toll booths using camera-operated systems, you might drive through an unfamiliar toll system and not even know it until a bill arrives in the mail. These forms of tolls often don’t require the driver to slow down from highway speed, so they can be easy to miss.

Out-of-state toll bills

If a toll bill arrives via mail and everything corresponds with your recent travel locations and dates, the necessary thing to do is pay the bill. In many instances this can be done online. If the toll was incurred while you were behind the wheel of a rental car, you’ll still be on the hook for paying for your time on that road.

Yet, it’s smart to keep in mind that mistakes can happen. A camera-based system might mis-read a license plate number. Receiving such a bill could be frustrating and you may have to provide some sort of documentation proving that you don’t own the vehicle corresponding with the toll fee.

An automated toll system could also charge the wrong amount if the transponder is obscured, or is otherwise operating improperly for some reason.

Dispute, but don’t ignore

While some motorists might simply ignore what they view as an erroneous charge, there are good reasons to avoid doing so. To start, while tolls are never anyone’s favorite part of driving, the money collected is used for ongoing construction or regular road upkeep. Consider that while a toll might seem a nuisance, so are potholes.

A stronger incentive to avoid ignoring an out-of-state toll is the increasing amount of toll reciprocity between states. This means a driver could encounter increasing fines for ignoring a charge, or be blocked from renewing licensing or updating vehicle registration.

Can toll violations fees be waived?

If you think a toll charge was billed in error, there is potential for it to be waived. The easiest first step to resolve it is to go online and find the given toll agency. It should have instructions on how to dispute a charge. This information could also be found either on your regular monthly toll bill, or on a violation that arrived in the mail.

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