In the September 27, 2015, The Everett Herald published an op-ed by Jeff Merrill, President of the Washington State Patrol Association. In the article, Merrill stated the tolls were “doomed from the start”. WSP cannot safely enforce the I-405 Express Toll Lane HOV violations. WSDOT shrugged it off, but 14 months later, the Chief John Batiste of WSP repeated the message the House Transportation Committee that they don’t enforce toll violations. Here is the video clip of the conversation:
You can Click here to watch the entire committee session on the TVW website. Jump ahead to timestamp 1:19:00 where Committee Chair Judy Clibborn asks the question and where Chief John Batiste responds:
“From an enforcement standpoint, we are pretty much out of the business when it comes to the tolling situation now and that has been turned over to the DOL’s [Department of Licensing] contractors to be able to help them with that situation.”
–WSP Chief John Batiste
In other words, they rely on citizens reporting violations similar to how HOV is enforced. In spite of this, in the first annual financial report, WSDOT reported spending $878,597 on Washington State Patrol and in the 9 months after they started issuing citations, $1.5 million was collected in civil penalties, most likely for crossing the double-white lines, although some people have reported getting cited for having their pass in HOV mode when they were not HOV. This is for just 17 miles of a single highway! This is an incredible display of non-compliance. And as my dashcam has recorded, for every 1 person that is cited for it, there are likely hundreds more people doing it. Understand that people don’t set out to intentionally break the law. This is what happens when we make things that don’t make sense.
And one final point: For out-of-state plates, WSDOT sends a request to the state asking for owner information. They then use that info and try to bill the owner. Canadians do not get billed for using the HOT lanes. Ever.