Law gives drivers extra time to pay for missed tolls

Toll violators will get a second chance to pay what they owe under a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Lawmakers created a grace period for fines on the Tacoma Narrows bridge and future toll roads. Drivers will have 80 days after bypassing a tollbooth to pay the $4 toll and an administrative fee before the fine kicks in to bump the cost to $52.

The change is part of a bill passed during this year’s regular legislative session to allow toll projects such as the bridge to keep the money from fines; that money previously has gone mostly to the court system. The new funding scheme helped persuade transportation officials not to increase tolls this year.

It will take months for the Department of Transportation to take over the responsibility to hear toll violations from the courts, delaying the start of the grace period. The law should take effect in January, according to the DOT.