If you’ve spent time on Colorado’s highways, you’ve probably seen it: drivers weaving in and out of toll lanes or otherwise abusing them.
Last year, lawmakers passed legislation allowing state traffic officials to issue tickets to tens of thousands of drivers who do just that in the relatively new part-time toll lanes on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs.
Now the details of what these fines will look like and how they will be enforced are beginning to emerge. State transportation officials say the raid will make those roads safer.
What toll lanes are we talking about and when does enforcement start?
The two 13-mile toll lanes on I-70 that open during peak hours near Idaho Springs will be the first under this year’s legislation. According to a preliminary plan, enforcement will begin in March 2023, after a one-month grace period in February.
Enforcement will be rolled out at other toll lanes in the Denver area “sometime next year,” Colorado Transportation Investment Office director Nick Farber told the state transportation commission this month.
How will the state recognize wrongdoing and impose fines?
Traffic officials say they expect to soon sign a deal with a company called Blissway, which uses street cameras to catch rule-breakers. The certificates are sent to the vehicle owner.
Fines range from $150 to $250 but are reduced by 50 percent if violators pay within four weeks. People can pay with cash at gas stations or grocery stores or online, Farber said.
Unlike fines issued by existing speed cameras, these subpoenas do not have to be served in person. The state will also have the ability to prevent violators from registering their vehicles if they have not paid fines.
“That’s only for extreme cases,” Farber said. “We will not do this for everyone who does not pay. We want to work with people so they can pay.”
Which specific behaviors are punished?
Weaving in and out of toll lanes, driving on them when they are closed, using them with a concealed license plate, or using improper equipment (e.g., trailers are not allowed on the narrow toll lanes of I-70 in the mountains). Speeding isn’t enforced with this system, although lawmakers in their next session may include a bill that would expand the locations where speed cameras could be used statewide.
Could someone who is SURE they didn’t do anything wrong dispute a citation?
Yes. Drivers can do this via an online portal. You can also view a five-second video of their alleged infraction.