BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has determined that video billing enhances the operation of toll projects statewide. Video billing allows customers to drive on a toll road without paying the toll at the time the road is used. The license plate of the vehicle is captured on video and a bill is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle at the address shown in TxDOT's vehicle registration records. However, many of these addresses are inaccurate. For example, an address listed for a particular car could be that of a previous owner.
Further, TxDOT has been approached by the City of Austin with regard to the possibility of using TxTag customer accounts to pay for parking services. While TxDOT has implied authority to perform all these functions, this bill explicitly grants this authority.
S.B. 1392 authorizes TxDOT to use video billing or other tolling methods to allow the registered owner of a vehicle to pay a toll on a later date. The bill authorizes TxDOT to enter into an agreement with a governmental or private entity regarding the use of a transponder issued by TxDOT and the corresponding electronic toll collection customer account to pay for parking services offered by the entity.
RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution.
ANALYSIS S.B. 1392 amends the Transportation Code to authorize the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), as an alternative to requiring payment of a toll at the time a vehicle is driven or towed through a toll collection facility, to use video billing or other tolling methods to permit the registered owner of the vehicle to pay the toll on a later date. The bill authorizes TxDOT to use automated enforcement technology to identify the registered owner of the vehicle for purposes of billing, collection, and enforcement activities. The bill requires TxDOT to send by first class mail to the registered owner of the vehicle a written notice of the total amount due and requires the notice to specify the date, which may not be earlier than the 15th day after the date the notice is mailed, by which the amount due must be paid. The bill requires the registered owner to pay the amount due on or before the date specified in the notice. The bill requires TxDOT to send the required notice and subsequent notices to the registered owner's address as shown in the vehicle registration records of TxDOT or an alternate address provided by the owner or derived through other reliable means. The bill requires TxDOT, on or before October 1 of each year, to conduct a cost analysis to determine a policy on whether to mail a notice after each time a vehicle is driven or towed through a toll collection facility or only after a certain number of times a vehicle is driven or towed through a facility. The bill requires the policy to ensure that the cost to TxDOT of collecting tolls does not exceed the amount of the tolls and fees collected. The bill makes conforming changes.
S.B. 1392 amends the provision requiring TxDOT to send a written notice of nonpayment of a toll to the registered owner of the nonpaying vehicle to include the option of sending the notice to an alternate address provided by the owner or derived through other reliable means. The bill authorizes TxDOT to send all subsequent notices of nonpayment of a toll associated with a vehicle from which ownership was transferred to another person before the event of nonpayment to the person to whom ownership of the vehicle was transferred at the address provided by the former owner or an alternate address provided by the subsequent owner or derived through other reliable means. The bill removes the definition of "registered owner," defined for purposes of provisions relating to fee and notice requirements for nonpayment of a toll as the owner of a vehicle as shown on the vehicle registration records of TxDOT or the analogous department or agency of another state or country. The bill adds this definition to provisions relating to state highway toll projects in general and includes in the definition an owner as defined by provisions relating to the registration of vehicles by TxDOT.
S.B. 1392 authorizes TxDOT, following the closure of an electronic toll collection customer account and at the request of the account holder, to refund the balance of funds in the account after making a deduction for any outstanding tolls and fees. The bill authorizes TxDOT to enter into an agreement with a governmental or private entity regarding the use of a transponder issued by TxDOT and the corresponding electronic toll collection customer account to pay for parking services offered by the entity.
S.B. 1392 specifies that the automated enforcement technology approved by TxDOT that is authorized to be used only for producing, depicting, photographing, or recording an image showing certain identifying information of a vehicle to require the image to depict that portion of a vehicle necessary to establish the classification of vehicle and the proper toll to be charged, the license plate number, and the state or country of registration, including an image of a license plate attached to the front or rear of the vehicle and showing the vehicle dimensions, the presence of a trailer, and the number of axles, rather than requiring the image to be only of a license plate attached to the front or rear of the vehicle.
S.B. 1392 defines "operate," "operation," and "registered owner."