SEATTLE -- The Washington State Department of Transportation agreed to forgive more than $3 million in penalty fees to drivers who offered to pay their late SR 520 Bridge tolls.
But drivers whose cases were already in collections cannot take advantage of that deal. That could change very soon.
WSDOT says they handed over nearly $2 million worth of unpaid tolls and penalties to collections -- but now the department is taking another look at all of those cases, hoping to come to a settlement that does not involve the courts.
For Rik Deskin, it’s hard to think about anything else when you owe more than $14,000 for crossing the 520 bridge.
“I try to stay to calm about these things but $14,000...," Deskin said.
The department says they sent Deskin and his wife dozens of toll bills after his Good To Go! account went in the red. But Deskin believed WSDOT had been drawing money out of his bank account.
The penalty is $40 for each late toll so his $900 toll bill ballooned into thousands of dollars. A collection agency took over his debt, adding thousands more in fees.
“We don`t have the money to spare,” Deskin said.
In June, Deskin came to us for help when the collection agency took him to court. After our tough questions, WSDOT reversed course.
“We did stop that proceeding from happening,” Toll Operations Director Patty Rubstello said.
And Deskin is not alone. WSDOT said it will stop collections proceedings for nearly 100 drivers.
We broke that news to Deskin on Friday.
“That`s really great, wow, that’s really great to hear that they all have been dismissed, that is incredible,” Deskin said.
Last month, WSDOT announced they would forgive all late fines if people agreed to pay their tolls.
“We’ve been able to handle 4,300 individuals resolve their civil penalties,” Rubstello said.
They are now hoping to make deals for the people who have been taken to court, a deal Deskin hopes will erase most of his debt.
“It sounds very promising, it’s very understanding on the part of WSDOT. I am thankful to them,” Deskin said.
WSDOT says they will have a final settlement decision on Deskin’s case as well as all the other collections cases in a month or two.