By the end of the summer, the party could be over for toll cheats on the Garden State Parkway.
Automatic cameras would photograph the license plates of drivers who don't pay at exact-change lanes, and vehicle owners would be sent a bill for the toll plus a $50 fee - double the current fine - under regulations proposed by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Motorists who find themselves without correct change now are supposed to use envelopes available at the toll booths to mail in their tolls.
"The problem is, the compliance rate is very low," said authority spokesman Thomas Feeney. "We lost about $4 million in revenue in the exact-change lanes in 2010. We only recouped $28,400 of it from people who mailed in the tolls they owed."
The parkway collected $38 million from motorists who used the 84 exact-change lanes last year.
Cameras already are in place in the lanes. If the regulations are approved, the first bills likely will be in the mail by late summer or early fall, Feeney said. Motorists who underpay also would be flagged.
The proposed regulations are expected to be published in the June 6 edition of the New Jersey Register. A 60-day public comment period would follow.
Comments may be sent to the Office of the Executive Director, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Box 5042, Woodbridge, N.J. 07095-5042. The deadline for submission is Aug. 5.
Authorities on the Atlantic City Expressway also are cracking down on toll scofflaws, sending state troopers to stake out ramps where motorists often sail through the exact-change booths without paying.
The South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the expressway, said it had received complaints from many honest motorists angry about the flagrant abuses they had observed.
The initial fine is $25, in addition to the amount of the toll. Fines increase with each successive letter until a fine is paid.
Sharon Gordon, a spokeswoman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, declined to say how much the expressway loses annually to toll cheats, but the agency's recent annual report showed $419,627 in "other expressway user fees" in its accounts receivable.