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Ryan seeks to criminalize E-ZPass toll evasion

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In the last four years, one million New York State Thruway drivers have cruised through E-ZPass lanes without paying. That failure to pay has cost the fiscally-troubled authority $35 million over four years.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan says he wants to change the law to help the authority collect the cash it is owed.

Ryan is pushing legislation criminalizes knowingly going through E-ZPass lanes, which is not currently a criminal offense. Instead, the authority sends out a collection letter along with a $25 charge, which most people don't pay.

"Over a quarter-million people a year ignore that letter," Ryan told WBFO News.

Ryan says the state's misdemeanor theft of services law makes it a crime to leave a gas pump without paying and it should similarly be a crime to cruise through EZPass without paying.

The assemblyman says it appears that some national trucking companies that instruct their drivers to go through E-ZPass lanes, with having a device in their trucks.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.