Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- The ride across the Crescent City Connection Bridge in New Orleans is now free, but some drivers are still being asked to pay up.

'I was flabbergasted,' said driver Karen Hence. 'I was what is this.'

'I'm angry because you know, I'm not the only person,' said driver Maria Crout.

These women are just two of the 22,000 people now receiving notice of prior toll violations from the Louisiana's Department of Transportation.

Crout says her notice claims she ran the tolls in February 2010.

'My toll tag stays on the windshield of my car all the time. So, I'm going to say it's a problem with their equipment.'

Hence says her alleged violations are also more than three years old.

'They have a picture of my license plate on here, but all of that aside, I've had a balance on my toll tag forever. This appears that I didn't even have a toll tag. It just appears that I went through and didn't pay.'

According to DOTD, the state is now trying to collect on a backlog of violations that occurred during a time when a state contractor walked off the job.

State Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, a frequent critic of DOTD, says it's not fair to penalize toll payers for DOTD's shortcomings.

'I think it's unfair for DOTD now to come back after all these years in an attempt to address a problem that they created, to now put it on the backs of people who have been paying for years,' said Connick.

Connick says there is no process set up to contest the violations.

'They just show it on their books, but the system was broken for all these years. Are the claims valid? Who knows?'

A new amnesty program allows alleged violators to resolve their outstanding amounts by paying just the tolls they missed, without the late charges and fees which add up to about $25 per violation.

The citations state that violators have up to 60 days to pay the fine or take advantage of the amnesty program before the matter is turned over to the attorney general's office for collection.

'As legislators we have to go to the AG and say wait a second, how can you prove this?' said Connick. 'You've got to prove your case that this is a valid charge. I don't think they can do that.'

'Every nickel of my money counts,' said Hence. 'I'm on a budget and every nickel counts. I'm not willing to give up money when I know it shouldn't be paid.'

'If this is the way the state is trying to earn a nickel, they're doing it the wrong way,' said Crout.

Connick said he will ask the attorney general to hold up on the collection proceedings until drivers are given some process to contest the violations.

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