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Fort Worth woman says her ex-boyfriend racked up $17,200 in NTTA fees and left her with a bill

In the fourth month of the year alone, police stopped Dee Davis five times for driving with an expired registration sticker.

Whenever an officer approaches her to ask about the expired sticker, she is always ready to give an answer. She grabs the folder she keeps in the back seat of her car. It’s full of envelopes from the North Texas Toll Authority.

Millions of Texans rely on toll roads daily in a state that has built more toll roads in the past two decades than nearly all of the U.S. states combined. The affordability, safety and management of these roads impacts us all, especially as some leaders admit that more are likely to come to handle substantial growth across the state and in North Texas.

After Davis explains her situation, the officer lets her go without ticketing her.

Davis is grateful for their generosity. She is in this situation because she was kind too. Several years ago, she allowed her then-boyfriend to use her car to go to work. At the time they lived together in north Fort Worth. But in 2021 they separated.

Late last summer, the single mother who works two jobs was stunned to see a $17,200 bill in the mail from NTTA. She had never driven on toll roads, but all the citations were from when she and her boyfriend were dating. She noted that the most recent toll payment was more than a year after her breakup. Davis assumed her ex must have hidden the toll tickets from him, or perhaps they had been sent to the old address where she lived before the breakup.

When he first saw the bill, Davis was confident that a phone call to explain what happened would resolve the matter. However, the NTTA’s response surprised her. She was told that the only payment plan she would accept was at least $300 a month. It was much more than she could afford.

Unpaid debt has had far-reaching complications. State law prevents you from renewing your car registration until you pay the NTTA. So for the past two years, Davis has been driving his car with an expired registration sticker.

Last summer she said The Dallas Morning News Some of the officers who have detained her several times know her by name. Some have told him that they stop other drivers who are in the same situation. Police stop her most frequently after 11:30 pm, when she returns home from her second job.

It is a risk that weighs heavily on her. Every time she gets behind the wheel, she knows she could be arrested or her car impounded. This is because failure to pay tolls is a criminal offense in Texas.

Davis is also now a “habitual violator” — the label the NTTA gives to anyone who has failed to pay 100 or more toll violations in a year. Justice of the Peace courts in North Texas can issue arrest warrants against habitual offenders who fail to appear in court to address citations.

“They can take you to jail,” he said. “I’m frantic about it.”