HOUSTON (FOX 26) - When we asked for your experiences with Harris County Toll Road Authority on social media, this is what you said:
“Drove a car with an expired credit card and they couldn't run the credit card through because it had expired.” said motorist Bobby Bosone.
Diana Shear wrote, "My husband put new plates on his car and we forgot to update. They waited 10 days to notify us there was a problem. There was a fine of $11.00 per violation. It was somewhere around $900.00. Turned out our EZ tag had quit working some time ago and they were just going by the plates. "
“Basically They're curing dandruff with decapitation,” says Attorney John Mastriani.
Mastriani says he got caught in a similar situation. Three small violations totaling $5 quickly ballooned to almost $80 after penalties were included. Left unpaid, the Authority turns collections over to a law firm. He says he was wrong, but this is too much.
“They've got themselves covered to the point that this is a profit center," said Mastriani. "This isn't just maintaining the tolls or to force people to pay the tolls. This is a penalty."
He says it's easy to have EZ Tag problems or get on the tollway without one or enough cash— if they even accept it at that booth.
So Mastriani filed what's called an information suit to find out how the authority sets tolls and fees. He's not accusing anyone of breaking the states usury laws — yet.
That being said, lots of drivers never run afoul of the authority.
“Well maybe they need to take care of their business” said motorist Richard Raymond Sr.
A spokesperson for the Authority was unaware of the lawsuit but was consulting with their attorneys to come up with a response. We will let you know that they say.