Bay Area drivers to pay back millions in unpaid bridge tolls to renew car registration

Some California drivers may receive an unexpectedly big bill when they try to renew their car registration. 

The Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee hopes to recover $50 million in unpaid bridge tolls and $134 million in late-payment penalties cumulated since January 2021, according to the Bay Area News Group. 

Most of the drivers, in fact 396,135 of them, owe $22 to $88 of toll fees and late penalties, according to the newspaper.

But more than 13,000 drivers owe at least $1,600. 

SEE ALSO: BART recovering after computer failure

Most drivers are expected to pay their bills in full in order to renew their registrations. 

However, the authority is working on a payment plan for people making up to 200% of the federal poverty level, about $27,000. 

The staggering amount of unpaid bridge tolls is likely caused by eliminating in-person toll collection during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the newspaper.

Drivers could either pay with FasTrak or pay after receiving a notice by mail.

Assemblymember Phil Ting criticized the oversight committee for failing to provide earlier notice to drivers who have not paid their toll fees. 

"Bay Area drivers should not be penalized because BATA chose to remove their operators. The switch to using technology to pay tolls has disproportionately impacted drivers who don’t have debit or credit cards," Ting said. "Now many drivers who rely on their vehicles for work or to bring their kids to school may face not being able to renew their DMV registrations."